Thursday, January 13, 2011

What to do if an earthquake hits?

You’re working at your desk when suddenly the room begins to sway or everything begins shaking. It’s an earthquake. What do you do?

On January 26, in an effort to prepare people for a potentially damaging earthquake, Douglas students, employees and visitors, along with thousands of other British Columbians, will participate in the largest earthquake drill in Canadian history.

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for the Great British Columbia ShakeOut.

The drill is happening on the anniversary of the 9.0 magnitude “megathrust” quake that rocked the west coast of North America, from BC to California, in 1700. The geological record tells us that megathrust earthquakes occur in this region on average once every 500-600 years. Some have been as close together as 200 years.

“Seismic experts tell us that we can expect a major destructive earthquake in BC," says Nancy Constable, Director of Safety and Security and leader of the drill. “We don’t know when it might hit. This drill is about practising how to protect ourselves when it does.”

What to do

At around 10:05am at both campuses, you will hear an announcement that a “Drop, Cover and Hold On” earthquake drill is about to begin.

When you are advised that the drill is starting, drop (carefully!) to the ground, take cover under a desk or table and hold on. If you are not near a desk or table, or are physically unable to drop, cover and hold on, then cover your head and neck with your arms and crouch – away from any glass – in a corner.

The drill will last 60 seconds, and you will be advised when it’s over.

Nancy says it’s crucial that people “hardwire” the correct action to take in the event of an earthquake.

“This is about how to take that immediate life-saving, injury-reducing action. In a small or moderate quake you may hear objects rattling in your office or classroom, or feel a quiver under your feet. In a large quake the ground or floor will move – possibly violently – and you may feel dizzy and unable to walk. You will probably feel shaking and rolling.

"You need to drop, cover and hold on.”

Click here for more information on the Great British Columbia ShakeOut.