Stay Ready! A Cascadian Guide to Earthquake Preparation

by Adam Munson
There has been a lot in the news lately about earthquakes (Indonesia, Mexico, Chile, etc). This is very concerning for many of us Cascadians because, as you probably know, we live on a fault known for catastrophic earthquakes, the Cascadian Subduction Zone.

Recently, on Wednesday, April 18th, the deepest earthquake ever recorded in our region hit: a 1.8 that registered 60 miles beneath the surface. While that’s a small shake, it is right on the massive subduction fault. While we can’t predict when the megaquake is going to happen, that doesn’t mean that we can’t be prepared for whatever comes.

Stay Ready!

Since we can’t plan for when it’s going to happen, it’s best to stay ready at all times. Here are some quick tips to make sure that you’re prepared, just in case –

  • Food: You’re going to need to eat. Local government is telling us to be ready for 3 days. 3 days is nothing. After Katrina it took over a week to help the people that had set up in the Superdome, even though they were in a centralized location. If you plan on making it in your own home, you should have 2-3 weeks of food on hand. If you’re going with canned food don’t forget to keep a can opener with your stash. However, you’re probably better off going with dehydrated foods, as they take up less space and you’re going to need water either way.
  • Water: Having a stockpile of water isn’t a bad idea. But what are you going to do if all your jugs of water bust open when the ground starts shaking? Having a water purifier of some kind, like you might take backpacking, is good, but you don’t have to go out and spend a fortune on this either. A little bleach can go a long way. Don’t overdo it, though! You don’t want kill yourself in the process of trying to keep yourself safe. A safer option might be a simple camping filter; you can usually find these at any outdoor sporting goods store.
  • Shelter: This is Cascadia. It rains. In the event that your home is not habitable, you might find yourself on the street. Tents, tarps and the like might be your only chance to find a dry spot. You may also be on the move, so, in addition to easily movable shelter, having a large trash can on wheels will make moving your essentials a much less laborious task. Keep up your strength and energy in any way that you can!
  • Communication: This is the most difficult task after a natural disaster. With phone lines down, communication can become nearly impossible. While most cell phones and land lines might fail, ham radios have proven to be an effective means of communicating in past disasters. You can get receivers for around $300 and a license for $40. A bit steep, but definitely worthwhile. This might also be an expense that you could bear with those close to you, as not everyone will need their own – a great chance to build your local community!
  • Establish a contact outside the region: Another great idea is having an out-of-state contact that you and your family all know. Maybe it’s an uncle in Kansas, a sibling in Texas, or Grandma in Boston. By having someone pre-designated, you can be sure that everyone is calling the same person. They can then inform all your other out-of-state relatives that you’re okay and transfer messages between everyone in the affected area.
  • At Work: It is very possible you’re not going to be home if and when something happens (Mother Nature has a nasty habit of not operating according to our schedules). Keep an emergency kit at work. Even something as small as a back pack that has all the supplies that you’re going to need in order to get back to your house: good shoes, parka, first aid kit, flashlight, etc. This is also something that you could establish with coworkers: designate a place in your office to keep these kits that is out of the way, but still easily accessible.

We cannot forget that we live in a geologically active part of the world. Planning ahead can mean all the difference in times of disaster.