Stanford’s earthquake precautions diverge from some standards

June 2, 2017, 1:30 a.m.
Stanford's earthquake precautions diverge from some standards
Federal guidelines advise securing tall furniture to walls in case of earthquakes (SAM GIRVIN/The Stanford Daily).

Despite a variety of drills and ongoing upgrades to structural safety, Stanford still diverges from government advice in its preparation for the next large earthquake. In particular, Residential & Dining Enterprises’ (R&DE) failure to bolt bunk beds and other tall furniture to the walls appears to contradict federal guidelines, and students do not regularly drill for earthquakes.

Guidelines from the Federal Emergency Management Agency advise that tall furniture should be anchored to wall studs. A number of Stanford students currently loft their beds, sometimes placing a desk underneath them. However, these lofted beds are not bolted to the walls. Stanford spokesperson E.J. Miranda wrote over email that the lofted beds provided by R&DE are intended to be stable and not tip in earthquakes.

“Only beds provided by R&DE may be lofted and bunked, and students are advised on how to properly bunk their beds should they desire that configuration,” Miranda said.

“R&DE works closely with safety experts across campus on a regular basis evaluating all furniture and equipment and earthquake-related safety features,” he added.

Although, as Miranda noted, Stanford holds a variety of emergency drills, Stanford held its last all-campus earthquake drill in October of 2010.

Meanwhile, the most prominent annual drill of earthquake readiness, the Great California Shake Out, has already attracted participation from 39 colleges and universities in California for its 2017 drill. The Great California Shake Out also attracts widespread participation from K-12 schools in the state.

Stanford also does not provide a structured earthquake safety training program to new students, despite the fact that many new students hail from areas without significant earthquake hazards.

Sajana Weerawandhena ’21 took a mixed view toward the earthquake safety education Stanford provided and indicated that some knowledge spread through word of mouth.

“I think it’s okay, you know, but they haven’t been explicit about it,” Weerawandhena said.

Miranda noted that information on how to prepare for earthquakes is included in the annual campus safety report and the University’s annual AlertSU test. Miranda said that student dorm staff are also trained in earthquake and other emergency safety as part of their fall training. In addition, Miranda indicated that other emergency situations such as natural gas leaks remind students about proper emergency procedures.


Contact Caleb Smith at caleb17 ‘at’

Caleb Smith '17 is a Desk Editor from Oakland, California and is majoring in public policy. Outside the Daily, Caleb is Director of news at KZSU Stanford, the campus radio station. Have a tip or suggestion? Please contact him at caleb17 ‘at’

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