Friday, September 30, 2011


Written by Imperial Valley News |

Friday, 30 September 2011 -- San Fernando, California - California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) Acting Secretary Mike Dayton joined Los Angeles Unified School District officials today at Valley Region High School #5, Teacher Prep Academy in San Fernando to launch the updated Guide and Checklist for Nonstructural Earthquake Hazards in California Schools.

Originally released in 2003 by order of the California Emergency Services Act, the revised Guide and Checklist provides further direction for creating safer educational facilities. It gives school district officials concrete examples and recommendations to reduce the potential of seismically related hazards associated with nonstructural components in schools, including mechanical systems, ceiling systems, light fixtures and furnishings.

"I am pleased to offer the Guide and Checklist to California school officials to assist in their efforts to mitigate injury and damage in the event of an earthquake," said Secretary Dayton. "Something as simple as using a metal clip to secure a bookcase can prevent injury to students and staff. Los Angeles Unified School District has done a commendable job at using the document to its fullest potential to not only protect students and staff but to mitigate the damage to school property and the potential for further economic impact."

In light of recent seismic events, both in the nation and globally, the timely Guide and Checklist uses common, non-technical descriptions and easy to understand graphics as a practical approach to help school staff undertake these important safety measures. The revised edition maintains this easy-to-follow format, but incorporates newer equipment items now more common in schools, such as flat screen televisions.

In addition to Cal EMA, other partners in the document included the Department of General Services (DGS), Division of the State Architect, the Alfred E. Alquist Seismic Safety Commission and the California Department of Education.

Mike Gardner, Chair of the Seismic Safety Commission, commented, "The Commission is proud to have participated in the development of this important report. While California school buildings are among the most earthquake resistant anywhere, the building contents may not be well-secured and can cause injury and death in a major earthquake. The Guide and Checklist will aid school districts, teachers, and parents in taking low cost, highly effective steps to ensure that things like light fixtures, books and ordinary classroom items are secured or stored in ways that reduce the chance they will fall during an earthquake."

In addition to securing items from falling, the guide makes recommendations to maintain safe and clear exits for evacuation and access for first responders, and to prevent chemical spills, fires and gas leaks. It is applicable to school districts across the state and in other states susceptible to seismic activity.

The Valley Region High School #5, Teacher Prep Academy, in the Los Angeles Unified School District is an example of the recommendations from the Guide and Checklist coming to fruition. LAUSD has used the Guide and Checklist as part of an overall emergency preparedness strategy.

"I'm very proud of the efforts we've undertaken at new schools such as VRHS#5 to keep our students as safe as possible in the event of an earthquake or other natural disaster," said Board Member Nury Martinez. "It is absolutely essential that parents know that their children are attending classes in buildings that are structurally sound."

"There's nothing more paramount to us than the safety of our students and staff," added LAUSD Chief Facilities Executive Kelly J. Schmader. "New schools are being built, and existing schools modernized, to the highest safety standards -- they not only comply with the structural and fire-life safety requirements of the Field Act, but are also designed to reduce potential seismic hazards associated with nonstructural components. Thank you Cal EMA, DSA, DOE and CSSC for providing us with the Guide and Checklist for Nonstructural Earthquake Hazards in California Schools and for recognizing our commitment to the recommended safety standards."

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