Feb. 16, 2011 editorial: Earthquake IQ

Feb. 16, 2011

The easiest rumor to track down this week was the earthquake.

Folks felt movement of the ground, or the buildings they were in, on Monday.

It's nothing to get shook up over at this point; there was no damage, no great rumbling.

But a 4.3 earthquake does give one pause, given that it was less than 100 miles away, in the neighborhood of that notoriously cranky sister peak, Mount St. Helens.

(United States Geological Service confirmed another temblor was felt near Mount St. Helens, this one on Feb. 15 at 5:09 a.m. At 2.2 on the Richter scale it was smaller and deeper than the one on Feb. 14.)

So while the Valentine's Day quake and its milder cousin created no particular problems, it's an opportunity to think ahead to what we can all do in case of a serious seismic event.

The following USGS tips on earthquake - EQ - preparedness can apply to getting ready for just about any natural disaster:

• Make sure each member of your family knows what to do no matter where they are when EQs occur;

• Establish a meeting place where you can all reunite afterward;

• Find out about EQ plans developed by children's school or day care;

• Remember transportation may be disrupted; keep some emergency supplies - food, liquids and comfortable shoes, for example - at work;

• Know where your gas, electric and water main shutoffs are and how to turn them off if there is a leak or electrical short. Make sure older members of the family can shut off utilities;

• Locate your nearest fire and police stations and emergency medical facility;

• Talk to your neighbors - how could they help you, or you them after an EQ;

• Take Red Cross First Aid and CPR Training Course.

The USGS also suggests that in areas such as ours to watch out for falling rock, landslides, trees and other debris that could be loosened by quakes.

Inside the home, install door latches, braces and fasteners to fix potential hazards such as cupboard doors, bookshelves, TVs and other appliances, and artwork or large plants.

There's plenty more to learn at:


This week's reminders, however small, that we live in an earthquake zone create an opportunity to learn - including about certain earthquake myths.

Given the proximity of this week's quakes to an active volcano, it's good to point out that while there are "earth processes responsible for volcanoes," earthquakes and volcanoes do not cause each other to happen, according to USGS.

Also, neither the USGS nor university scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake. They do not know how, and they do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future. According to the USGS website:

"The USGS focuses their efforts on the long-term mitigation of earthquake hazards by helping to improve the safety of structures, rather than by trying to accomplish short-term predictions."

That's a realistic mission, one that the average citizen can participate in, by learning more about earthquakes and how to respond and be self-reliant in case of disaster.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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