Tsunami sirens will sound at 10:15 a.m. Thursday as both North Olympic Peninsula counties participate in the Great Washington ShakeOut international earthquake drill.
Emergency management officials encourage people to “drop, cover and hold” during the alarm, and to be aware of how to get to a safe place in case of an earthquake or tsunami, as well as general emergency preparedness.
As of Monday, 7,889 residents were registered to participate in Clallam County and 2,093 residents were registered to participate in Jefferson County, according to the national registry at shakeout.org. People aren’t required to register to participate, but it is encouraged.
“It is just a good idea,” said Keppie Keplinger, public information officer for Jefferson County Emergency Management. “The beauty of this shakeout is you don’t have to get dressed up and go any place, you can do it right at home or at your office.
“Look around, find a sturdy table you can get under, and practice that, because if you’ve done it a couple of times, then you don’t have to stop and think so much about it when the time comes when you really need to do that.”
The ShakeOut began in southern California in 2008 and is now a worldwide endeavor.
The point the drill is to encourage the public to practice how to respond to an earthquake situation, particularly due to the Cascadia Subduction Zone, where a large-scale earthquake is possible and smaller earthquakes are common.
Both Clallam and Jefferson counties will hear the All Hazard Alert Broadcasting sirens start at 10:15 a.m., and they will play the tsunami warning tone as part of the drill.
Clallam County Emergency Management coordinator Anne Chastain encourages people to take a moment to analyze where they are and where they would need to get to for safety during an earthquake.
“In the past, we’d be really heavy on the ‘drop, cover and hold on,’ and what we want to do now is just start the conversation,” Chastain said. “If you look at where you are when that siren goes off, there’s the likelihood that that’s where you’re going to be when an actual quake hits.
“So it could be in the parking lot of a grocery store, it could be in your dentist office, it could be at work, at school, all the places that you normally go in a day are the places you could be when an earthquake hits,” she continued.
“So what we want people to do is practice some awareness of if this were to happen right now — especially with us with the Cascadia Subduction Zone off our coast that could be a catastrophic event — you’re going to have to be prepared.”
Both Keplinger and Chastain recommend people prepare emergency kits to have on hand, with important items such as having scans of important documents — birth certificate, driver’s license, Social Security card, etc. — on a password-protected flash drive, emergency cash, water, non-perishable food and more.
Jefferson County has created a disaster plan and Go-Kit guide called “Think, Plan, Do” that is available at bit.ly/thinkplando, Kepplinger said.
Tsunamis may occur after an earthquake in both counties, and the state Department of Natural Resources has evacuation maps that can be found at tinyurl.com/PDN-Tsunami map.
To register for the Great ShakeOut or to see who is participating, go to shakeout.org.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].