Get ready for the Shakeout

The Shakeout is back to test how prepared you are this Thursday (Oct. 20) against an earthquake... even the Big One.

Yup, it’s that time of the year. The Shakeout is back to test your might (and preparedness) this Thursday (Oct. 20) against an earthquake… even the Big One.

Running into its sixth year, The Great B.C. Shakeout is a program that aims to educate and prepare British Columbians for one of Mother Nature’s really, really bad days.

It’s not mandatory to take part (depending on where you are) though since B.C. is situated in one of the most active earthquake regions in the world, sometimes it pays to be prepared, said Rick McLeod, Sooke Emergency Support Services coordinator.

“We live in a very active earthquake-prone area… there are hundreds of earthquakes that take place every year. Stats have proven there will be a big one coming, they just don’t know when,” he said. “Just to practice, be ready for it, go through the drills, everyone’s aware of what to do.”

Last year, the program had more than 770,000 participants, with each group – from schools, to households and businesses, having a Drop! Cover! and Hold On! exercise.

The idea is that as soon as you take cover, you wait until the shaking stops and remain aware of any aftershocks.

At the end of the day, it all ties in with emergency preparedness.

“Make sure you have your grab and go bag… you have to make sure you can take care of yourself for at least 72 hours, or a maximum of seven days before any help is rendered,” McLeod said. “We always focus on the big emergencies, but anything that alters your lifestyle is an emergency, so you have to be ready for any time of emergency, it can be big or small.”

Al Wickheim, community coordinator for Juan de Fuca Emergency Management Program knows a few things about how far a few supplies, such as food, water, sanitation and health supplies, along with critical documents, will go.

Wickheim, who’s volunteered around the world as an emergency coordinator and more recently in Nepal, said even though preparing for an earthquake may be the difference between life and death.

After all, practice makes perfect.

“If everyone keeps awareness of initial response at the front of their minds, they know what to do when there’s a seismic event… they don’t have to think about it or pause as the building collapses around them,” he said.

Getting through such an event unscathed can also go a long way in the overall rescue efforts.

“If you can survive those first few minutes, then you have a much greater chance to survive uninjured, or with a minimal injury,” Wickheim said. “Even if you don’t become a rescuer, at least you’re not a burden.”

While the Shakeout is universal, the goal behind the training is to prepare individuals, families and groups for unique situations that may affect just a certain location. Also why knowing one’s surroundings is important to forming an emergency plan.

“Knowing your local hazards, impassable roadways, tsunami, power outages, communications out, some injuries or worse can give you a notion as to what may be a reasonable approach to self-rescue and survival.”

For more tips, info, and registration for the Great British Columbian Shakeout, go to shakeoutbc.ca.