Tips to Prepare for the Next Cascadia Quake

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Start gathering items for your emergency preparedness kit

January 26, 2016, marks 316 years since the Pacific Northwest’s last Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake. On January 26, 1700, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami devastated the region. Seismologists say there’s a 40 percent chance the next Cascadia earthquake will hit within the next 50 years.

Local geologist Scott Burns, Ph.D., who is a Red Cross Cascades Region board member often called on to discuss the effects of earth-shifting events, says, “Oregonians are far from ready for the effects of shaking, landslides, liquefaction and tsunamis that are sure to occur when the Cascadia Subduction Zone shifts.”

So, what can you do to prepare?

1. Get a kit. If you’ve ever had to search for your flashlight when the power goes out, you know the panic of being unprepared. Start gathering items for your emergency preparedness kit. At the very least, it should include:

  • A three-day supply of non-perishable food and water—one gallon per person, per day for drinking and hygiene purposes
  • A battery-powered or hand crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • At least one flashlight and extra batteries
  • A first-aid kit, which should include all prescription, over-the-counter medications and necessary medical items
  • Copies of important documents, such as proof of address, dead/lease to home, passports, birth certificates and insurance policies
  • 2. Make a plan. Talk with members of your household about what you would do to stay safe during the earthquake. What's your plan if you're separated from loved ones? 

  • Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school. Consider sturdy pieces of furniture such as under a table or desk, or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you
  • Practice “drop, cover and hold on” in each safe place. If you do not have sturdy furniture to hold on to, practice sitting on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms
  • Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. All household members should have this person’s phone number and email address. It may be easier to call long distance or text if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service
  • 3. Be informed. Know what situations may occur where you live, where you work and where you go to school.

  • Download the Red Cross Emergency app for severe alerts and lifesaving tips before, during and after the earthquake and other disasters
  • Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose
  • Learn FIRST AID/CPR/AED so you have the skills to take care of yourself and loved ones, especially since emergency responders may not be immediately available
  • For additional preparedness tips and information on how to respond before, during and after disasters, read the Red Cross Cascades Region Prepare! A Resource Guide!