Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stop, Drop and Hold

Contributed by Norm Nyhuis, Trainer / Consultant, Evergreen Safety Council

OK, we all saw the evening news or heard the report on the radio; Washington D.C. and the surrounding area was shaken up today, by a 5+ earthquake. While some may argue that "DC" could use a bit of shaking up, I was more impressed by what I saw in the video clips and reporting from correspondents who were there: in short, they did what we in the safety and preparedness industry have been telling everyone NOT to do.

Once the initial realization that a quake was in progress, and people got past the normal denial that most of us will experience, I saw literally no one on the video clips that were broadcast who took the recommended procedure of "Drop, Cover & Hold".

Too many people literally had that "deer in the headlights" look as the video cameras captured the moment. Granted there are few earthquakes in the "DC" area, at least as compared to the west coast, but they have happened in "DC", in the past.

Once outside, most people reached for their cell phones - this is a very bad thing to do. The telephone system, including the cell phone network, is not capable of providing service to every subscriber AT THE SAME MOMENT. The result is as best, "slow dial tone" or simply no dial tone. When an earthquake hits, and after addressing any injuries and accounting for those around you, hang up any telephone that has been shaken "off hook". This will allow those who really do need to call 9-1-1 to actually get dial tone, to make that emergency call. There will be plenty of time after the initial response is underway to make that call to your friends to share your experiences.

Let's take this as a reminder, to review the simple things we can do to be prepared for an earthquake;
* practice "Drop, cover & hold"
* buy or build a 72 hour emergency supply kit
* store water in dark colored containers - not plastic milk jugs - a gallon per person per day is a good start (don't forget your pets need water too)
* set up an out of state contact for you and your family to call if you are unable to get home from work or school following the quake

Interstate phone service will be restored first, if there is physical damage to the telephone lines - it literally will be easier to call out of state than across town.
Check out these and other tips at, and let's all be prepared for the next one.

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