Residents from Vancouver, BC to northern California may want to take note of the recent earthquakes that struck Indonesia, Haiti, and Chile. The Cascadia Subduction Zone sits quietly off of the northwest coast of the United States and is capable of producing a magnitude 9.0+ quake at any time. The Cascadia Subduction Zone has a history of producing these megathrust quakes intermittently and it has been 310 years since the last one. The megathrust quakes that are produced by this fault zone are very similar to the earthquake that struck off the coast of Indonesia in December of 2004 spawning a tsunami that took lives in countries throughout the Indian Ocean.
If you live along the coast from northern California to central Vancouver Island, it’s important to have an evacuation plan in place so that you don’t fall victim to the tsunami that will inevitably follow a large quake. Pay attention to the tsunami evacuation signs in your area and have an alternate plan in case one of them is blocked for some reason. You will not have time to figure all of this out after the quake strikes, it’s best to come up with a plan now and to discuss it with close friends and relatives. It’s also important to establish a plan in case family members are separated during a large quake or tsunami. Having a plan to contact a friend or relative out of state to let them know your status and location is a good idea. Believe it or not, it’s oftentimes easier to reach someone out of state after a disaster of this magnitude because long distance phone service is often restored first.
Do you know where the shut off valves for gas, water, and electricity are and how to operate them? If not, you should familiarize yourself. If you aren’t sure, contact your local utilities for more information.
It’s important to know the safest locations in your home and office during an earthquake. You will want to stay away from windows and shelves with heavy objects. A hallway is usually a safe place, while kitchens and garages tend to be the most dangerous. Do not run outside. This is how many people are struck by falling objects during earthquakes. It’s possible that there will be falling glass or live power lines outside your home, so it’s better to ride it out indoors where you will be safer. It’s a good idea to have a disaster kit with first aid supplies, water, and food for your home and office. The American Red Cross sells kits, but it’s just as easy to make your own and personalize it for your family. It’s important to have a plan for your pets in the event of a disaster as well. Emergency shelters generally do not accept pets, so it’s important to have a plan in place to secure them with access to food and water.
Residents need to make sure that they have enough supplies to last them for a minimum of 3 days. That includes food, water, and any medications that you need. Taking the time to prepare yourself and your family before a disaster strikes is the best way to ensure your safety and the safety of your loved ones.