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Wednesday marked 322 years since the last Cascadia earthquake. Are you ready for the Big One?

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 28, 2022

Earthquake damage in Oregon in the Klamath Falls area in 1993.  (Brent Wojahn/Oregonian)
Earthquake damage in Oregon in the Klamath Falls area in 1993. (Brent Wojahn/Oregonian)
Oregonian

Oregonian staff reports

Wednesday marked 322 years since the last Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami struck the Pacific Northwest, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management reminds us. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown designated the week “Cascadia Earthquake Preparedness Week” and urged Oregonians to be prepared.

The occasion is as good a reason as any to ask yourself: Are you ready for the Big One?

According to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, “scientists predict the chances that a mega-CSZ earthquake will occur within the next 50 years are about one in ten.”

The Oregonian has regularly offered guides to preparing ourselves for emergencies, particularly earthquakes. Here are nine ways to assess your preparedness and things you can do now to prepare for an emergency.

Bookmark the website or Facebook page of the Oregon Health Authority and a local health department that regularly notifies residents of health emergencies and other issues impacting the community. Follow public health departments like OHA that use social media to communicate timely and accurate information.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radar live app offers real-time radar images and severe weather alerts. Or purchase a weather radio to stay up-to-date on the most recent developments.

Review what you should do in the event of one of those emergency alerts. (Here’s a hint: drop, cover and hold on.) That sounds so simple. But as this piece by the University of Oregon’s Dare A. Baldwin from The Conversation says, researchers studying people’s responses to emergency alerts indicate many people simply do nothing.

Have a household escape plan. Make sure everyone in your home knows your emergency escape plan including how to safely exit dwellings, where you will all reunite and how you will contact each other if phones aren’t working.

Think about your emergency kit. Seriously, we’ve known for years that we need to put together emergency kits for our homes. Watch the 2015 unboxing video of Earth Science Information Officer at the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, Ali Ryan, shows us inside her emergency kit and gives tips on what to pack. Listen to the Peak Northwest podcast of Jim Ryan and Jamie Hale interviewing Marilyn Bishop, founder of Cascadia Quake Kits, as they talk about how to be prepared. And then, hey, maybe do something about it.

Assemble essential items in one place. Ideally, you’ll need two weeks’ of supplies, and water tops the list. Janet Eastman details the essential items to store and what to consider as you prepare. (Don’t forget about what your pets will need, too.)

Prepare your “Go Bag.” Wildfires have changed some of the ways we consider preparing for emergencies. Having a “Go Bag” ready has become essential for all of us. Apply the lessons in this guide to your earthquake prep, with reminders about portable essentials such as first aid kits, masks, extra clothes, tools and, of course, food and water.

Already set with supplies? Good for you. Take this opportunity to check your emergency supplies for expired items such as medications. Even canned goods have expiration dates (don’t forget to pack a can opener), and you’ll want to check to see if your batteries and chargers still work or if important documents need to be updated.

Earthquake-proof homes and workspaces. When the earth starts to move, normal everyday objects can become dangerous projectiles, Kale Williams explains. Experts recommend you take a meticulous “hazard hunt” through your home, identifying anything that could pose a hazard. Install latches on cabinets containing dishes, secure heavy bookcases to walls using straps or bolts and use closed hooks or earthquake putty to affix pictures and mirrors to walls so they don’t come crashing down. Learn more in Williams’ step-by-step guide to preparing for the Big One.

Inventory your home. An hour spent taking inventory photos of your home now can save you hundreds of painful hours trying to pull together information for an insurance claim after a disaster.

Learn more. Oregon Office of Emergency Management has all kinds of resources for individuals, communities and businesses.

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