Just One More Thing To Prepare For.

Street Debris

With all that we have to deal with right now including the COVID-19 restrictions, so many people made homeless by the wildfires that are still burning, students staying home while distance learning on computers, people losing their jobs, not being able to pay our bills, and heaven knows what kinds of physical and mental issues we are experiencing every day it is not a big surprise that many of us missed an important annual  safety event.

Shake Out
The Great Oregon Shake Out | Image by capemeares.org

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 this past week.  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. The only way I found out about it was when my National Weather Service weather radio alarm went off. I listened to the announcement that it was the “Great Shake Out” alert and that we should drop, cover, and hold on as if an earthquake had just struck. My first thought was that I didn’t even realize it was time for the test.

Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake | Image by fidalgoweather.net

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 movement of the two tectonic plates in the Cascadia Subduction Zone is what will cause most of the stronger earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest. 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.

School Duck & Cover!
Duck and Cover! In School (1950s) | Photo by sott.net

I’m sure many of those who are below the age of 65 don’t even know the type of disaster drills we had in school back then. The watch words were “Duck and Cover!” A film 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. 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.

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.

Drop! Cover! Hold On!
Office Drop! Cover! Hold On! | Image by youtube.com

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

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 amazonaws

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: [email protected].

Tim Chuey is a Member of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association and has been Awarded Seals of Approval for television weathercasting from both organizations.

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