Red Cross urges earthquake preparedness on Haiti anniversary

January 12, 2011

By Staff

NEW — 2 p.m. Jan. 12, 2011

Though most Western Washington residents focused on a brief snowstorm Tuesday and Wednesday, the local American Red Cross chapter urged residents to prepare for earthquakes on the anniversary of a devastating earthquake in Haiti.

“Washington is not only known for its beautiful landscape, but for its earthquakes risks, which can create widespread damage and extended power outages,” local Red Cross CEO Randy Hutson said in a statement. “The Jan.12 anniversary is a good reminder for families to review their emergency plan and select an out of area contact should a strong earthquake strike the Pacific Northwest.”

Though the region has not faced a major temblor since the magnitude 6.8 Nisqually earthquake rattled Western Washington a decade ago, emergency planners train often and encourage residents to prepare.

Issaquah and King County planners, plus representatives from other cities and regional agencies, spent Oct. 6-7 in the midst of a disaster drill, called Sound Shake, to prepare for a destructive earthquake.

Red Cross planners offer simple tips for residents to prepare for earthquakes:

  • Learn fire evacuation and earthquake plans for all of the buildings you occupy on a regular basis.
  • Select safe places in each room of your home, workplace or school. The safe place could be under a piece of furniture, or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture.
  • Practice drop, cover and hold on in each safe place. If you do not have sturdy furniture to hold on to, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
  • Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed.
  • Keep and maintain an emergency supplies kit in an easy-to-access location.
  • Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation.
  • Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs. Bolt bookcases, china cabinets and other tall pieces of furniture to wall studs. Brace overhead light fixtures.
  • Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
  • Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Place large or heavy items in the cabinets closest to the floor.
  • Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home, and keep a wrench handy for use.
  • Learn about your area’s seismic building standards and land use codes before you start construction.
  • Designate an out-of-area contact, because local lines can be difficult to access during a disaster. In the aftermath of a disaster, family members can call the contact person from out of the area to report on their status and to check on others. A text message from a wireless communication device often works if a cellular signal is not strong enough to make a voice call.
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