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Quakin' Q&A


As the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake approaches, Ashraf Habibullah’s phone won’t stop ringing. The Lafayette resident is the founder of Computers & Structures, a software company that helps engineers around the world design earthquake-safe buildings. In recent months, Habibullah has been interviewed for numerous earthquake news stories, including one for NBC Dateline, which is scheduled to air April 18. Here, he gives tips for staying safe when the big one hits.

What should you do in an earthquake?
Get under a table—protect yourself from anything that might fall on you. A doorway isn’t safe; things could still fall on you.

Where’s the safest place to be?
In one of those new high-rise buildings in San Francisco. Those structures have been designed with technologies to predict what will happen during an earthquake.

Aren’t we safer in the East Bay suburbs than in San Francisco?
Single-family dwellings are not much of an earthquake risk. But it’s not necessarily the structure itself. The dangerous aspects are falling objects. That’s why you should anchor your water heaters and cabinets— anything that could fall on someone.

How much food and water do you keep for emergency purposes?
I keep two weeks’ worth of food, water, and emergency supplies at home.

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