The one quake preparedness story you need to read | Guest View


Last updated 10/11/2023 at 1:56pm

Kevin Galvin

Damage from the 2001 Nisqually quake in Pioneer Square.

Editor's note: The Beacon is republishing this piece from the City of Edmonds from 2021 in light on the 4.3 earthquake felt in our area Oct. 8. If you're like us, you've been reading earthquake preparedness stories your whole life. So why read this one? Two reasons: Indonesia in 2004, and Japan in 2011. Both occurred on subduction zones. We have the Cascadia Subduction Zone off our coast that's overdue to unleash a 9.0 monster.

The steps here, provided by the City of Edmonds, are simple and simply essential for those of us living in earthquake zones. Complete them all, and you are a step ahead of your neighbor.

Before the next big earthquake (or any other emergency) in our area, do whatever you can to get prepared so you will survive and recover quickly.

These four steps each contain a basic set of recommended actions for how to get prepared at home or in the workplace. Many are free or low-cost solutions.

Start with Step 1 by securing yourself from potential dangers in your home, something that is easy and fast to accomplish. For example, move a heavy object from a high location closer to the floor. This only will take a minute and will prevent the object from falling onto someone or causing damage.

You don't need to complete all of the actions in each step before beginning the next.

Step 1: Secure your space by identifying hazards and securing moveable items. Start now by moving furniture such as bookcases away from beds, sofas, or other places where people sit, sleep, or spend a lot of time. Move heavy objects to lower shelves.

Step 2: Plan to be safe by creating a disaster plan and deciding how you will communicate in an emergency.

Start now by making sure that your emergency plan includes evacuation and reunion plans; your out-of-state contact person's name and number; the location of your emergency supplies and other pertinent information.

Practice "drop, cover, and hold on."

Identify safe spots in every room, such as under sturdy desks and tables. Learn how to protect yourself no matter where you are when an earthquake strikes.

Step 3: Organize disaster supplies in convenient locations. Start now by storing disaster supplies in accessible locations at home, at work, and in vehicles. Having emergency supplies readily available can reduce the impact of an earthquake or other emergency on you and your family.

You can choose what to put in each location:

– Under-bed bags hold shoes, a flashlight, and other items for when an earthquake happens while sleeping.
– Go-bags or car kits contain supplies for about three days when evacuation is needed.
– Home or work supplies for sheltering in place for up to 2 weeks.

Step 4:Minimize financial hardship by organizing important documents, strengthening your property, and considering insurance. Start now by gathering the documents you may need.

You may need to leave your house quickly after an earthquake if there's a fire. To help you organize the most important information you will need, begin with designating a "grab-and-go" backpack or bag.

Consider what documents you will need if you are away from home for an extended time (such as what you will need as identification, to reach loved ones, to file an insurance claim, etc.) Put all of these important documents in a sealed plastic bag, then place it into your "grab-and-go" bag.

Leave your "go bag" somewhere you can get to easily.

Remember: preparedness is a process. You can complete one item a day, one a weekend, or one a month. Just remember that earthquakes strike without warning, so you want to get as many completed BEFORE the shaking starts.

Soon you will be prepared to survive and recover.

– This article originally appeared in the City of Edmonds' quarterly newsletter.


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