Wednesday, October 19, 2016

We all need to be prepared for the real ShakeOut

By Barbara LaBoe

If a catastrophic earthquake hit today – or any day – would you be prepared?

We take regular steps as an agency to prepare for and respond to disasters – including participating in Thursday's Great Washington ShakeOut drill – but we also need the public's help.

Preparation and Planning
People and agencies from around the state will take part
 in the Great Washington ShakeOut on Thursday, Oct. 20.
It's not fun to think or talk about disasters, but preparation is crucial.

On Thursday, my co-workers across the agency will take cover at 10:20 a.m. – it's important to practice so it becomes second nature – and then we'll also practice how we account for every single employee after a disaster. This is key not only for the safety of our workplace, but also to be able to quickly respond and mobilize repair crews.

In June, more than 200 of our employees joined 20,000 people region-wide in the Cascadia Rising Drill to practice responding to a 9.0 earthquake – which would be truly massive in its destruction. We're now using lessons learned during that drill to better prepare for the real thing.

We want you and your families to also be prepared.

What can you do?
A lot.

WSDOT staff practice reacting to a major earthquake during the Cascadia Rising drill earlier this year.
We'll need everyone's help to respond to a devastating earthquake – from knowing "Drop, Cover and Hold On" to keep yourself safe, to having emergency kits once the ground stops shaking.

Perhaps you stocked up on supplies for the massive storm predicted for this past weekend. While you may not have needed them then, those supplies are a good first – or additional – step toward creating an earthquake/disaster kit. (I now have a restocked water supply at the ready, for example).

We've long been told to have three days of food and water available for emergencies. For something like a massive earthquake, though, a better rule of thumb is seven to 10 days of supplies. With roads and bridges impassible after a giant quake, you and your neighbors may need to initially help each other while crews respond to life and death emergencies.

In case of an earthquake, drop, cover your neck and hold on to something solid to stay safe if you can.
In the Cascadia Rising drill this summer, for example, dozens and dozens of roads and bridges were damaged. General traffic just wasn't possible and crews had to work hard even to get emergency routes reopened. A 9.0 earthquake would be truly catastrophic, but even a smaller one can cause significant damage and we want everyone prepared.

Here are some initial steps to make sure you and your family are better prepared:
Seem overwhelming? Set a goal of stocking one new emergency kit item during your weekly or monthly grocery store run. The sooner you start, the more prepared you are for both small and large emergencies.