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Drop! Cover! Hold On!

I Remember “Duck And Cover!” Now It’s “Drop, Cover And Hold On!”

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Did you miss it? Did you even know that it was going to happen? I’m referring to the “Great Shake Out” which is a world-wide effort to increase earthquake safety awareness. It was held all over the world, throughout the United States and here in Oregon. The “Great Oregon Shake Out” actually took place at 10:20 AM Thursday October 20, 2016. If you were watching television – live or on cable, or listening to the radio, or have a weather radio (from the National Weather Service) with an alarm you were made aware of the drill through the Federal Emergency Action Network (EAN) which broadcasts disaster information and even Amber Alerts locally.

Drop! Cover! Hold On!
Drop! Cover! Hold On! | image by

You may have missed the official drill, but that doesn’t mean you are left out of the loop, so-to-speak, and unaware of what to do when an earthquake strikes our area. The first disaster drill I remember occurred when I was in elementary school back in the 1950s. The big threat then was a recently developed technology that could be launched at us by an enemy. That threat was the Atomic Bomb.

I’m sure many of those who are below the age of 40 don’t even know the type of disaster drills we had in school back then. The watch words were “Duck and Cover!” Let’s take a look at a film that was shown in schools all over the country to show the youngsters the threat and to teach them how to react if an atomic bomb were to be dropped on the United States.

With today’s knowledge of “the bomb” what you just saw in that video was inaccurate at best and silly at worst. Hiding under your desk is a good place to be in an earthquake, but no protection at all from an atomic blast if you are within the actual blast zone. If you were outside and saw the bright flash you most probably would be permanently blinded if you looked at it and get caught by the pressure and heat blast that destroys everything in its path.

Atomic Bomb Test
Atomic Bomb Test Building Destroyed By Blast | Image by

There is a difference between the atomic bomb and the hydrogen bomb. According to the Times of India website: “Nuclear bombs are of two types: those that depend on fission, like atomic bombs, and those that depend on fusion, like hydrogen bombs. The former get their explosive energy from the splitting of atoms in materials like uranium  or plutonium, which takes place automatically. On the other hand, hydrogen bombs, which are also known as thermonuclear bombs, depend on the fusing together of atoms, as is taking place in our sun, to release much vaster quantities of energy than atomic bombs. The fusing requires very high temperatures, hence atomic bombs are generally used as triggers for hydrogen bombs. Hence, every atomic bomb is a nuclear bomb, but every nuclear bomb is not an atomic bomb.”

Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake | Image by
Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake | Image by

Enough about the past. Let’s get back to information that will help you when an earthquake strikes the Pacific Northwest. Notice I said when and not if. The first question might be: Where do I find this earthquake safety information? There is a website “The Great Oregon Shake Out!” which does describe the event and how to sign up for it, but since the date is already past it is the practical earthquake safety information that you will need to see.

The rules for what to do when the earth starts shaking are quite simple. As the website explains: “Drop where you are, onto your hands and knees. This position protects you from being knocked down and also allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if nearby.           Cover your head and neck with one arm and hand -If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl under it for shelter – If no shelter is nearby, crawl next to an interior wall (away from windows) – Stay on your knees; bend over to protect vital organs –                                                     Hold on until the shaking stops. -Under shelter: hold onto it with one hand; be ready to move with your shelter if it shifts – No shelter: hold onto your head and neck with both arms and hands.”

Federal Emergency Management Agency | Image by daily signal by newscom
Federal Emergency Management Agency | Image by daily signal by newscom

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has publications to help citizens prepare for all kinds of disasters. They even have an app for that. The FEMA app allows you to set up the areas of interest for which you might need advisories, watches and warnings. I have it on my phone and it is a valuable tool to keep me informed about the changing weather situations and the dangers they bring with them along with earthquake advisories.You can set the app for the area in which you live and the kinds of advisories you want to receive.

Home Earthquake Drills
Home Earthquake Drills | Image by

With the “Big One” looming large for the Pacific Northwest you really do need to prepare for what you and your family would do when the ground starts shaking. Hold family earthquake drills and while you are at it you should also have family fire drills. It’s one thing to think about what you would do, but what will get you through the unforeseen event will be preparation. If you physically practice what you should do the muscle memory will be there when you are fighting off the confusion of the moment when a disaster actually strikes.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at:

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