Apparently today there was some sort of simulated earthquake emergency to test preparedness or something -- I'm not really sure because I didn't see a whole lot about it in the news, and when it came time for it, some idiot was trying to burn down the local mall. And there was other important stuff going on, like conference calls.
I'm not saying I don't have respect for the damage an earthquake can do. I remember my parents lining us up next to the stairway before dawn when I was a child. I don't actually remember the earth shaking at that point (1972 maybe? I think there was a big earthquake near LA that year) but it must have been quite an event or I wouldn't remember it 38 years later. I've missed most of the other big ones, although I once was on the eleventh floor of a building in San Diego when a small earthquake hit, and the swaying was a little scary.
The thing about earthquakes, though, is that they happen, and then they're pretty much done (apart from the aftershocks at least). There's no hours of listening to the house lashed by gale force winds, or days of weather forecasts. One minute you're going about your normal business, and the next you're kicking yourself for not bolting the bookcases to the walls after eight years, and then you're either fine, or you're not, but the earth is done moving and it's time to call everyone you know.
After living in California most of my life, I don't even think about where to store things any more. If it's heavy, it stays below knee level unless it's bolted to the wall. There's absolutely nothing in my bedroom that could fall on me except the ceiling. (The chances of the ceiling falling, however, are non-negligible, especially if I don't get the hole in the roof fixed this year.)
I didn't realize how much that affected me until I moved to Louisiana, and I kept going into friends' houses and feeling really uncomfortable. It finally dawned on me that it was because my friends (none of whom came from California) stored heavy, breakable objects on top of cabinets right next to the sofas. None of the bookcases were secured to the walls. It made me cringe every time I went into the room.
My earthquake supplies, though, are a different matter. If the big one hits on a Monday or Tuesday, I'll have enough Diet Coke to keep me hydrated until I can find water (or more Diet Coke). Intellectually I know that I'm supposed to keep a three day supply of water, food, clothing, pet food, etc in the garage, but let's face it -- in any earthquake, my garage is going to be the first thing that goes.
So... all you folks that live in California, check your emergency supplies and make sure you have enough for me too. And everyone that lives in other places... y'all are crazy!