Editorial: Are you prepared for the big shake?

October 9, 2013

By Editorial Board

The Great Washington ShakeOut on Oct. 17 will be a drill — only a drill — but consider it a wake-up call to prepare yourself and your family.

Experts predict that the Pacific Northwest will have an intensive earthquake in the near future, geologically speaking. That’s been routine every 200-300 years for many centuries say scientists. And our last big one was in 1700. So we’re overdue.

That 1700 quake was disastrous, even without skyscrapers and cities dependent upon gas and electricity and connected by elevated freeways.

That was a mega-earthquake that changed the landscape of the coast, wiping out Native American villages. It caused hillsides covered with forests to slide into Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish.

Just because the Snoqualmie Valley doesn’t have skyscrapers or forests that could slide into large lakes, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared. Services we take for granted could be affected for weeks – such as telephone, gas, and even delivery of groceries to local stores.

Use the Great Washington ShakeOut to practice safety and survival techniques with your family. Do more than teach your children to drop, cover their heads and hold onto something like a desk or table.

Plan a home evacuation drill. If your home doesn’t have underground utilities, pick a spot away from power poles and possible downed wires. Set up a meeting spot.

Do you have enough food and water stored to get your family through several days? It used to be recommended to have three days of supplies but now experts advise stocking enough for 7-10 days. If you have pets, remember to stockpile some of their food, too.

While planning, consider this: If you cross a bridge to get to grocery stores, how long will it be before you can get out of your neighborhood.

Does everyone in your family know how to turn off utilities? Do you have a first aid kit handy?

One thing people often forget is that in emergencies, cash machines don’t work and banks aren’t open. Keep some cash stashed because if banking lines are down, your credit and debit cards won’t work either.

If someone in your family requires daily medication, keep a small supply in reserve, rotating it often so it doesn’t get out of date.

Be prepared. And it wouldn’t hurt to participate in the Great Washington ShakeOut. (To learn more about it turn to page 11.) It just might mean the difference between disaster and survival for your family.

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