It's nobody's fault that the Coachella Valley happens to sit on top of the San Andreas Fault. Experts believe we're overdue for the Big One, which would cause a lot of shaking and baking here in the desert.
When it comes to natural disasters, people in other parts of the country have time to prepare, as meteorologists can issue warnings as a storm approaches the area.
In the case of earthquakes, however, you never know when one is going to hit. Some scientists believe there are subtle changes happening underground just prior to a quake, and special devices are being developed in an effort to create an early warning system, giving residents a precious few extra seconds to get out of harm's way. But until these devices are ready to be implemented, there are alternatives we could use to warn us of impending disaster.
The most difficult issue is determining whether the shaking is going to be a small temblor or a major earthquake. The best way to make that distinction is to find a person who can tell the difference between a false alarm and a big deal. The only person who fits that description would be Vice President Joe Biden. Using Biden for this purpose would involve moving his office to the Coachella Valley, of course.
If the shaking becomes strong, Biden would get on a loudspeaker and yell, "This is a big f---in' deal!" That would allow residents to take shelter immediately.
People who study earthquakes are familiar with P-waves, or primary waves, and S-waves, or secondary waves. Under the Biden System, a new F-wave would be added.
Another method we could use to warn us of earthquakes would be to study animal behavior. Most people have heard stories about how animals act unusually before a quake hits.
P-waves travel faster than S-waves, which are the ones that cause damage during an earthquake. Some animals can detect P-waves 60 to 90 seconds before the shaking starts. In the case of dogs, we could utilize their unique pee-wave warning system: If a dog begins to pee uncontrollably, that would be a good indication that a quake is on its way.
Another solution would be to distribute wild animals to every household in the Coachella Valley. Scientists have noticed that elephants move to higher ground before any shaking happens. If a resident wakes up to find an elephant on the roof of the house, it would be a good idea to take shelter.
Of course, there will always be people who prefer to be warned the traditional way, by watching the Emergency Alert System on their local TV station. Here in the Coachella Valley, we're very fortunate that tuning into almost any station will provide us with just about the same information: For example, KESQ Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 use a similar script for both of their newscasts. If a viewer tunes in to either channel and sees footage of Biden dropping an F-bomb, or an elephant stuck on a roof, they would know an earthquake is just moments away.
Watching these two channels would be a huge advantage over watching NBC affiliate KMIR Channel 6. Most scientific news is reported by meteorologists, and KMIR's weather reports are pre-recorded from Las Vegas. You can always tell if an earthquake is happening "Right Here, Right Now" (KMIR's slogan) if you see the ceiling of the studio cave in on the weather forecaster's head on KESQ or CBS Local 2.
So, remember, if you want to survive the Big One, make sure your canned goods have a long continental shelf life before you serve them on your tectonic plate. After all, we're all in the same boat, which would come in handy in case California falls into the ocean. "Better get ready to tie up the boat in Idaho," as the song says.