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Getting ready for the big one
On Thursday, Oct 17 at 10:17 a.m. employees of the Township of Langley and the City of Langley will be hiding under their desks.
As part of the Great British Columbia ShakeOut Drill, they will practise protecting themselves during an earthquake by dropping to the ground, taking cover under a sturdy desk or table, and holding on for 60 seconds.
Residents and businesses are encouraged to do the same with their families and employees.
“In an earthquake, there will be no pre-warnings like we have with other incidents, like a fire alarm when there is a fire,” said Township of Langley Safety Advisor Sandra Ciparis.
“It is important for us all to develop our safety plan and practice them so that we and our families are ready at a moment’s notice.”
ShakeOut drills will be practiced throughout the West Coast of Canada and the United States, and in countries including Italy, New Zealand, and Japan.
ShakeOut is also a chance for families, businesses, schools, and organizations to review and update their emergency preparedness plans and supplies, and secure their spaces to prevent damage and injuries.
“Keeping a tidy work space free of clutter is a good work practice in any circumstance, but it becomes ‘real’ when you get under your desk for the drill,” Ciparis said.
“Having a space free of clutter not only saves precious time when getting shelter, it also minimizes the number of items that can shift and fall when the shaking starts.”
“We haven’t had a major quake in 313 years,” said Langley Emergency Program Co-ordinator Ginger Sherlock, “but Christchurch had not had one in 88 years and had forgotten.”
One of the most populated cities in New Zealand, Christchurch was hit by an earthquake in February 2011 that killed 185 people and injured several thousand.
“It is so easy to forget and take our safety for granted, but we live on the Cascadia fault, which has the potential to create an earthquake as severe as or greater than the Sumatra earthquake of Dec. 26, 2004,” she said.
Sherlock encourages those practicing the ShakeOut drill to wait a further 60 seconds after the “shaking” stops before leaving your secure place. In a real life earthquake, take a minute to insure that items around you have stopped shifting.
Whether you are outside, in a car, in a public place, or in your home or office, be aware of your surroundings and make sure objects — from power poles and debris to windows and furniture — are no longer likely to fall and cause injury.
ShakeOut BC is presented by the BC Earthquake Alliance Society and the ShakeOut BC Organizing Committee, a coalition of local, provincial, federal, and non-governmental organizations working together to promote earthquake preparedness to British Columbians.
The annual drill is modeled after the highly successful “Great California ShakeOut.”
Approximately 5,000 mostly small earthquakes are recorded in Canada each year.
In the past 100 years, at least nine earthquakes, in or near Canada, have registered a magnitude greater than 7.0.
A few of them have caused extensive damage.