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Shake Out moves to a new date

Preparedness even more notable after recent quakes
Shake Out moves to a new date

by Kyle Wells British Columbians are getting ready to drop, cover and hold on when the Great BC Shake Out hits on Thursday, October 20.

The last Shake Out took place on January 26 and over 470,000 British Columbians took part in the event. More than 2,000 Powell River residents were among them, a percentage of the population consistent with provincial average.

Organizers moved the date of Shake Out to enable more students to take part. Provincial exams take place in January, which made it difficult for many schools to participate at that time. The new date will also see BC taking part in the event on the same day as California, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho and Guam.

The idea is for families, businesses and schools to take a moment out of their day to run through an earthquake drill. At 10 am, the same time as all the other areas taking part, participants are asked to pretend a quake is taking place, drop to the floor and take shelter underneath a desk. Afterwards or before the main event, the initiative also promotes discussion over how prepared a workplace or home is and what steps can be taken to make the building more earthquake proof.

Some simple ideas for making a home or workplace more earthquake proof are to make sure that book shelves are bolted to the wall, secure paintings and other wall hangings, prepare an earthquake kit with some essential items and make an escape plan to get out of the building after the quake has stopped.

Emergency coordinator for  Powell River Regional District Ryan Thoms said that given the events that have transpired since the last Shake Out, the need to be prepared could not be more apparent. Since January, the world has seen two devastating earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand and in Japan, two locations on the same “ring of fire” earthquake zone as BC.

The 6.4 earthquake off the west coast of Vancouver Island on September 9 that many people in Powell River felt is another all-too-real reminder that earthquakes do happen here.

“We wouldn’t go driving without putting a seatbelt on, we all keep smoke detectors in our houses and it’s like we expect to be in a car accident or have a house fire every day,” said Thoms. “We know when those things happen we’ll be really glad we prepared. The same goes with earthquake preparedness.”

The main message of Shake Out is still to drop, cover and hold on during an earthquake. This means that once things start shaking the safest thing to do is get down, crouch under a sturdy desk and hold on to the desk until the shaking stops. This is widely regarded as the safest method for waiting out a quake, more so than “triangle of life” theories which suggest crouching beside a large object so that a pocket, or triangle, of air will remain if the building collapses. Collapsing buildings are unlikely in this area given engineering standards, so seeking shelter under a desk to avoid falling objects is the recommended response.

To register for the Great BC Shake Out visit the website. Businesses, schools, families and individuals can all register and be counted as participants.