Just months after public agencies came together to practice its earthquake preparedness plans, Gov. Jay Inslee says it’s the public’s turn to do its part for personal preparedness and to practice drop, cover and hold on skills.
Inslee proclaimed October as Washington State Disaster Preparedness Month, which is highlighted by the Great Washington ShakeOut earthquake drill at 10:20 a.m., on Oct. 20. The drill emphasizes the urgent need for people, organizations, schools, communities and businesses to practice what to do to be safe and to be ready before an earthquake strikes. In addition, coastal communities will test their tsunami alert sirens at the same date and time using the real sound of the siren, not the Westminster Chimes that typically happen during the monthly tests. NOAA weather radios set to receive the required monthly test will also activate during this test.
“In June, our region’s public agencies and first responders come together during Cascadia Rising and put our preparedness plans to the test,” Inslee said. “Now individuals and families need to prepare as well. This is the perfect time to check to make sure your emergency kits are up to date, that your business has a continuity plan or that you’ve designated an out-of-area contact in case our local cell towers are down. Most important is learning the right way to protect yourself – practice dropping down, covering your neck and getting under a desk or table and holding on until after the earthquake ends.”
People and organizations can sign up to participate at www.shakeout.org/washington. To date, more than 900,000 have registered. Last year, more than 1 million residents registered.
Preparedness will be key in surviving the next big earthquake to hit the Pacific Northwest. That means being prepared for what you need and where you live – with up to two weeks’ worth of supplies and an emergency “go” kit ready and, for those living on the coast, have an understanding of evacuation routes and the warning signs behind tsunamis – including how NOAA Weather Radio works and the coastal sirens.
This is the fifth year for Washington State to participate in the Great ShakeOut initiative. On Oct. 20, from noon to 2 p.m., earthquake preparedness experts from the Washington Emergency Management Division and FEMA will join scientists with the Washington Department of Natural Resources and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network to gather online for a Reddit Ask Me Anything – an online Q&A. The public is invited to ask questions at https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/
We also encourage participants to take photos of themselves participating in the drill and post those photos to social media using the hashtag #washakeout or tag our Twitter account at @waShakeOut.
For media interested in covering the Great Washington ShakeOut, a number of schools will make themselves available. The ShakeOut begins at 10:20 a.m., Oct. 20.
IN GRAYS HARBOR: Ocosta Elementary School has the nation’s first vertical tsunami evacuation platform built above the school’s gymnasium, which opened for the first time in September. After practicing for ShakeOut, all of the school’s children will practice rushing up to the rooftop. Contact Chuck Wallace, Grays Harbor Emergency Management, at (360) 580-2281 or CWallace@co.grays-harbor.wa.us
IN SEATTLE: Seattle Public Schools will make Lowell Elementary School (on the north end of capitol hill) available as youth practice their drop, cover and hold on skills. Contact Luke Duecy at (206) 252-0104 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
IN TACOMA: Franklin Pierce School District will conduct a formal media event at Midland Elementary School. Contact Katie Gillespie of Franklin Pierce School District at (253) 298-3010 or email@example.com for more information.
IN OLYMPIA: The Olympia School District will conduct a formal media event at Roosevelt Elementary School. Contact Susan Gifford, Director of Communications & Community Relations at (360) 596-6104 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
IN CLARK COUNTY: The Camas School District will make Camas Elementary available. Contact Doreen McKercher, (360) 833-5563 or email@example.com for more information.
IN BREMERTON: For media interested in video or photos before or during ShakeOut, the Washington Youth Academy in Bremerton will make itself available to have its students practice earthquake safety in advance of Oct. 20 or on that day. Contact Director Larry Pierce at (360) 473-2609 or firstname.lastname@example.org.