Last night at around 9:20 pm the Sunset District went dark, well at least parts of it did and in the darkness it gave me time to reflect. This doesn’t happen that often anymore, but we did used to see it happen every few months a couple of years ago. We prepared ourselves some time ago so we had the candles and LED lights ready to go.

For some reason the area of the Sunset that I live in seems prone to blackouts. I walked down to the corner and looked up and down and everything was dark. A block down they had power at the end of my block the next block had power so it seems to affect a portion of the Sunset between Pacheco and Rivera streets. I immediately pulled out my iPhone and jumped to twitter. I follow a lot of people in the Sunset District who also follow me so I figured someone else might have been hit by this.

Sadly there were only a few people affected, but we were in contact and tweeting back and forth about how to get the word out. I found out that @PGE4me if you tweet them they will tweet you back with status updates. I also learned that if the power didn’t come back on how set the alarm on my iPhone to wake me up without buzzing and beeping all night with it’s notifications. This is a good thing to know in the future.

The power came back on about an hour later and all was good. I did warm my neighbors who seem to be a bit techie that anything electronic and valuable they should unplug. I had my home theater unit blown when power came back a few years ago because of the power surge that came with it. Luckily I had unhooked everything that would be too expensive to replace and went about replugging it in after the power came back.

For some reason these outages happen only at night. There has been a few time when the power went out in the middle of the night and we overslept the next day because our alarms didn’t go off because the clocks had been reset, but those were rare. I did end up having to miss Anthony Bourdain’s layover in London and Hawaii 5-0, but for the most part they’re getting better and getting the power back. I’d just like to know why it’s always the Sunset District that gets hit with this and not other parts of the city.

NERT: It could save your life

NERT, or Neighborhood Emergency Response Team is a free service provided by the San Francisco Firefighters to help train the public in how to deal with emergency and disaster related situations. Other cities have Community Emergency Response Team classes, but San Francisco, being a bit different focuses on the type of disasters we are most likely to encounter. I haven’t heard of a hurricane ever hitting San Francisco, but earthquakes are up there at the top of the list and this is a good way to get training on what to do in case you’re hit by one or any of the other problems that could crop up with or without an earthquake such as fires, medical emergencies, etc.

My wife found out about this first and brought it up to me because I always used to test her by yelling GET DOWN NOW! and watch her ask me, why? I’d politely remind her that if she had to question me when I yelled a line like that she might end up dead. I can be a bit smug at times and I know that it wasn’t exactly the right situation to make that most effective. Since I had been a Boy Scout and gone through all of this before I figured it might be fun to have a refresher course since it was free as well. There are six classes you take totaling 20 hours. It’s not really that hard or time consuming and it’s definitely not a boring class. You have to be re-certified every couple of years, but that’s just having to take the last two courses.

Well, it turns out what I learned as a Boy Scout isn’t what you’re supposed to do anymore. We were always taught the first thing you do when someone has a severed limb [how many of us have ever been in that situation?] was to apply a tourniquet. Turns out that’s not the best thing to do since you could end up making the person lose more of the limb by killing off blood flow and you should always apply direct pressure until medical professionals can get there.

Remember standing in a doorway during an earthquake? WRONG! It’s actually best to get up against a way because if the ceiling drops in chances are pretty good that a portion will fall at an angle leaving you with a safe place. I also got to learn things I had never thought of before such as teamwork in a situation when some is trapped under say a fallen telephone pole or a car. This was also the first time someone had lit a controlled fire and handed me an extinguisher and told me to put it out. These are handy tips to know and the best part was at the end we got our yellow hard hats and orange safety vests. Yes, some of you might think at times that those outfits look a little dorky, but if something bad comes down like another ’89 earthquake you’ll be glad to see these people. I could go into more detail, but it’s best to get your information from the NERT website.

The Great Quake of 2011

Well, Friday had a little surprise for me. I’m sitting here at the computer like I am frequently when all of the sudden I notice the computer start to shake. Then the walls begin to shake. I immediately grabbed onto and hugged my computer until the shaking stopped. My wife, she ran into the other room and grabbed our daughter to make sure she was safe. OK, BAD DADDY!

Turns out it was only a 4.1 and was ESE of San Jose. It only registered 2.6 in San Francisco which I’m a little dubious of. We might have to make a trip to the Randall Museum to double check their seismometer.

We haven’t had an earthquake to speak of in a few years. Usually they last only a second or two  and you only realize that there was an earthquake after it’s gone. This one lasted about 5 seconds so we had time to register in our minds that we were in the middle of an earthquake. I wasn’t scared at all, just wanting to make sure none of my essential stuff didn’t get broken [i.e. my computer].

People have said to me that they’re rather live in a hurricane area or tornado area or blizzard area than to have to worry about earthquakes all the time. Well, I can assure you, we don’t worry about earthquakes all the time. While my house faired through the big 1989 quake with no damage unlike the Marina house in the picture, we might have a problem if the San Andreas decides to have a little shake, rattle and roll. It turns out the San Andreas runs about 10 feet from our house so if a big one strikes there we’re toast, but this house has been in my family for over 50 years and we still haven’t had any damage from an earthquake.

This doesn’t mean we don’t have a grab and dash bag if something big does hit and we’ve both gone through NERT training so if something bad happens we’re prepared. So don’t worry, be happy. San Francisco will still be around for a few more years. Sorry red states.