Editorial: Take steps to be ready for quakes

There are simple steps residents can take to make life safer should the Cascadia subduction zone wreak havoc.

An article in The New Yorker magazine titled “The really big one: An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when” has garnered quite a bit of attention lately. The article is about how a magnitude 9 earthquake is expected at some point from the Cascadia subduction zone, off the coast of Washington State. Experts say the quake is expected to destroy buildings, wreck highways and utilities, kick off tsunamis and kill thousands.

The Pacific Northwest is a hot spot for seismic activity. The Cascadia subduction zone has shaken things up several times in history, most recently in the year 1700.

According to the Washington Emergency Management Division, the quake intervals range from 250 to 1,000 years. But there are simple steps residents can take to make life safer should the Cascadia subduction zone wreak havoc.

• Create a disaster preparedness kit that includes a week’s worth of food and water, a flashlight and radio with extra batteries, a first aid kit, a dust mask, moist towelettes for sanitation, a wrench to turn off utilities, a can opener, and a cell phone charger, cash, medications, and sleeping bags.

• During a quake, remember to “‘drop, cover and hold on.” Seek shelter under sturdy furniture or by leaning against an interior wall.

• Before an earthquake occurs, secure items that could fall and cause injuries (e.g., bookshelves, mirrors, light fixtures).

• Plan how you will communicate with family members, including multiple methods by making a family emergency communication plan.

• If near the coast or bodies of water, seek higher ground immediately. Tsunamis can reach heights up to 100 feet.

• Anchor appliances and tall heavy furniture that might fall. Put latches on cabinet doors to keep contents from spilling out.

• Find out how you can improve your home to protect it against earthquake damage.

LINK: Resilient Washington State: A Framework for Minimizing Loss and Improving Statewide Recovery after an Earthquake (pdf)

LINK: http://www.ready.gov/earthquakes

LINK: If you think New Yorker’s earthquake story is scary, better read this (Seattle Times)