When you live in a beautiful place like Langley, it is easy to take our safety for granted.
But the west coast of B.C. is located in an earthquake zone, and the possibility of a natural disaster striking at some point is very real.
That’s why staff at the Township of Langley and the City of Langley will be taking part in the Great British Columbia ShakeOut Drill at 10:17 a.m. on Oct. 17. At that time, employees will practice protecting themselves during an earthquake by dropping to the ground, taking cover by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and holding on for 60 seconds.
Residents and businesses are encouraged to do the same with their families and employees.
“In an earthquake, there will be no pre-warnings like we have with other incidents, like a fire alarm when there is a fire,” said Township of Langley safety advisor Sandra Ciparis, “so it is important for us all to develop our safety plan and practice them so that we and our families are ready at a moment’s notice.”
“Participating in ShakeOutBC is a good way for the Township to promote and raise overall safety awareness,” she added. “It not only provides guidance to employees during an emergency at work but it also assists them in developing a plan for their families and loved ones at home.”
ShakeOut drills will be practiced throughout the west coast of Canada and the United States, and in countries including Italy, New Zealand, and Japan. ShakeOut is also a chance for families, businesses, schools, and organizations to review and update their emergency preparedness plans and supplies, and secure their spaces to prevent damage and injuries.
“Keeping a tidy work space free of clutter is a good work practice in any circumstance, but it becomes ‘real’ when you get under your desk for the drill,” Ciparis said. “Having a space free of clutter not only saves precious time when getting shelter, it also minimizes the amount of items that can shift and fall when the shaking starts.”
“We haven’t had a major quake in 313 years,” said Langley Emergency Program coordinator Ginger Sherlock, “but Christchuch had not had one in 88 years and had forgotten.”
One of the most populated cities in New Zealand, Christchurch was hit by an earthquake in February 2011 that killed 185 people and injured several thousand.
“It is so easy to forget and take our safety for granted, but we live on the Cascadia fault, which has the potential to create an earthquake as severe as or greater than the Sumatra earthquake of December 26, 2004,” she said.
“If you realize it can happen wherever you are, at any time, and you can familiarize yourself with what to do, you are building a habit that will help you survive,” Sherlock said.
Having a plan on how to communicate and connect with your family after an earthquake is also vital, she said.
Sherlock encourages those practicing the ShakeOut drill to wait a further 60 seconds after the “shaking” stops before leaving your secure place. In a real life earthquake, take a minute to insure that items around you have stopped shifting. Whether you are outside, in a car, in a public place, or in your home or office, be aware of your surroundings and make sure objects – from power poles and debris to windows and furniture – are no longer likely to fall and cause injury.
“Stop, breathe, and think,” said Sherlock, who encourages all residents to know the risks, have a plan, and get an earthquake kit.
If the ShakeOut BC timeframe of 10:17 a.m. on Oct. 17 isn’t practical, businesses, families, and schools are encouraged to pick a time at some point in the week to discuss earthquake preparedness and practice the protection drill. For more information, visit shakeoutbc.ca