Karen Sawatzky

Get ready for ShakeOut

People everywhere will be dropping for cover at 10:20 a.m.

  • Oct. 19, 2011 4:00 p.m.

Tomorrow at 10:20 a.m., get ready to get shaken up.

Across the province and beyond, people everywhere at home, school and even work will be dropping, covering and holding on on Thursday, Oct. 12 for the second Great British Columbia ShakeOut.

“We had our first ShakeOut on Jan. 26 earlier this year,” said Heather Lyle, co-chairperson. “We decided to join others like California, Oregon, and Washington State to coincide with them.”

Designed to be the biggest earthquake preparedness drill in the world, hundreds of thousands of B.C. residents have already signed up. It originally took place in January for the anniversary of the massive Cascadia earthquake in 1700, but changed to match the successful California Shakeout that the local version is modelled after.

“California asked if we would join the same date, the third Thursday every October.”

The event is in part a reaction to the catastrophic earthquakes that have recently rocked places like New Zealand and Japan. There have been a string of smaller quakes off the coast of Vancouver Island with one measuring 6.5 magnitude in the summer and a 4.3 on Oct. 9.

ShakeOut hopes to accomplish three things, said Lyle.

• To raise awareness that earthquakes occur here in B.C.

•To enhance emergency preparedness and get people talking about family plans and supplies.

•To give people an opportunity to practice drop, cover and hold on.

To participate, sign up on the website at www.shakeoutbc.ca, and at precisely 10:20 a.m. drop to the ground, take cover under a table or desk, and hold on as if an earthquake was actually happening.

Townsend Road resident Karen Sawatzky said it’s a good idea, but she isn’t overly worried about a major earthquake happening in Sooke.

“Anywhere you live there are hazards. Maybe it’s snakes, maybe it’s floods or maybe it’s famine.”

At the same time, she admitted most people probably have a lack of preparedness. Sooke Fire Chief Steve Sorenson agreed with her sentiment.

“There’s a lot of complacency,” said Sorensen. “You see it when something happens — the phones light up with calls like ‘what do we do?’ and then the calls fade away again two weeks later.”

To combat this, the fire hall is hosting two emergency management speakers — Brock Henson from Saanich and Rob Johns from Victoria — on Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. They will be sharing their experiences and lessons learned from visiting Christchurch, New Zealand after their earthquakes of 7.1 and 6.3 magnitudes earlier this year.

“It’s just part of our emergency program to get people prepared,” he said.

The seminar takes place upstairs in the Sooke Council Chambers, call 250-642-5422 to RSVP as space is limited.

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