Community Earthquake Preparedness

by Megan Monahan – Staff Writer

September 19, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico City claiming at least 200 lives and thousands of buildings damaged residents in the Pacific Northwest wonder what will happen when the “Big One” finally happens?

With the Mexico City earth quake leaving thousands displaced and an estimated 2 billion dollars in damage leaving the west coast wondering, “what will happen when the big one happens?” The West Coast has been hearing that they need to prepare for when the predicted 10.0-11.0 magnitude earthquake that will hit the West Coast in the next 20 years. More than 4.5 million people In Washington and Oregon will be impacted when the “Big One” hits. One of the greatest risks that come with earthquakes are buildings collapsing causing injuries, damage and sometimes death.

The earths outer layer is made up of giant tectonic plates that are always sliding past creating seismic activity. The Juan de Fuca plate that under the North American plate have been grinding against each other for eons and get stuck for 200-300 years at a time. Scientists say that Washington is 100-116 years overdue from another massive earthquake that will shake the region. In addition to this an underwater fault will break once the earthquake occurs possibly causing a tsunami that will wipe out the entire city of Seattle and hundreds of small seaside towns stretching from the Vancouver Islands to the Northern Coast of California.

Here is what to do to prepare for when the “Big One” occurs. Pay attention and learn from the Mason County Cascadia Rising Drills that happen yearly, where they have a mock tsunami and earthquake drill that helps them determine what works and what doesn’t in the case of an emergency. Create an emergency preparedness plan for your home, school and work. Make sure you identify the best places to seek shelter in your building such as, sturdy desks and tables, the frame of a strong interior door. In the event of an earthquake makes sure you stay away from all large furniture, mirrors, windows, kitchen cabinets and anything that won’t be stable during the quake. Make sure you teach everyone how to signal for help if they are trapped.

Another thing to do in preparation for any natural disaster is learning basic CPR and first aid, and if you don’t know it, make sure that someone you are with does. Local Red Cross centers hold monthly classes along with having online courses. Decide a rallying point for all your family to meet at after the quake and immediate aftershocks have stopped. Learn also how to turn off all the utilities in your house, especially your gas line. Develop routes with several methods of getting home after the quake has happened because you never know when a quake can happen.

Make sure that you also have 7-10 days of food and water stored in a waterproof bin, also containing first aid supplies, batteries, flashlights, candles and matches. Other things that are useful in an emergency kit are, fire blankets, foldable rain ponchos and a CB radio that you can use to contact someone for help if you are trapped without power and cell service.

In the event of an earthquake at Kentlake students and staff “drop, cover, and hold” under desk. Once the shaking has stopped admin and security will assess the building for any structural damage. After that happens there will be an announcement for students and staff to go out to the football field just like we do during fire drills and follow all of the check-in protocols.

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