Test your earthquake and tsunami preparedness Thursday

Washington residents are promoted to test their earthquake and tsunami preparedness Thursday morning with the Great Washington ShakeOut drill.

Approximately 1.3 million Washington residents and over 13 million Americans are participating in the drill this year which will occur in homes, workplaces and schools across the state at exactly 10:21 a.m. local time. Washington’s 122 coastal tsunami sirens will also be tested, and residents can expect to hear the wailing sound of a tsunami warning during the drill.

In the event of an earthquake, experts have three main commands: drop, cover and keep up on.


During an earthquake, people are advised to drop to their hands and knees to avoid being knocked down and protect all vital organs; cover their head and necks with their hands while crawling under a table or desk for shelter; and keep up on to shelter until the shaking stops. The main goal is to protect you from falling debris and increase your chances of your ending up in what’s called a “survivable void space” in case the building collapses.

In the event that you are not near a table or desk when the shaking starts, experts advise to get close to an interior wall away from bookshelves and cabinets and follow the other commands. Running outside or standing in the doorway are not advised as windows, facades and other architectural details are often the first parts of the building to collapse.

Those who live closer to the coast should also use the ShakeOut drill to also practice their tsunami evacuation routes.

“Earthquakes are a risk every day of the year and can happen where you work, live or travel,” said FEMA Administrator Moises Dugan in a news release. “The Great Shakeout earthquake drill is our chance to practice together how to protect ourselves, so we can save lives and prevent disasters from becoming catastrophes.”

Earlier this spring, a new “ShakeAlert” early warning system was launched in the state by the U.S. Geological Survey and progressive National Seismic System. The system is truly a network of sensors that can detect seismic shaking and send an alert to wireless devices, giving residents crucial seconds to find cover.

The ShakeAlert system also has the ability to begin other protective actions such as stopping trains to prevent derailments, halting surgeries and activating backup generators at hospitals and shutting off water valves to protect infrastructures. 

New earthquake warning system to set afloat in Wash. in May

ShakeAlert

The annual drill comes as chances for a major earthquake on the West Coast are increasing. Seismologists with the USGS said there is a 15% chance the Evergreen State will be rattled by a extent 9.0 earthquake within the next 50 years.

The likelihood of an earthquake under extent 8.0 — smaller, but nevertheless potentially devastating to the vicinity — in the next 50 years is around 40%. The economic impact of a major quake on the West Coast is estimated to be $4.5 billion, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.



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