News

Survive the danger zone

By JACINDA HOWARD

The Mirror

Images of flooding, tornadoes, hail, torrential rain, lightning, thunder, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, wind and snow storms, avalanches, sinkholes and earthquakes flashed across the TV screen as Kenny Loggins lyrics welcomed the audience to the “danger zone.”

Following the video, American Red Cross representative Vicki Lee reminded the audience that all the footage was taken in the Pacific Northwest, most of it in Washington state.

Lee gave a presentation April 20 at City Hall to educate the public about earthquake and natural disaster safety in Washington.

About 20 audience members learned how to best prepare for an unexpected disaster by watching a video, participating in a question and answer session and observing how to build a disaster supply kit.

The presentation was one of several outreach attempts the city made in celebration of the April 24 statewide “Drop, Cover and Hold” earthquake drill day, said Ray Gross, Federal Way Emergency Management Coordinator. He and Lee both stressed the importance of communication and preparation as a way to survive a natural disaster, including an earthquake.

Lee suggested creating a disaster plan that included having an out-of-state contact person that everyone calls to check with during an emergency. As family members call, that contact person can let each of them know who else has checked in, she said. This helps keep the phone lines open for other people.

“Sometimes in emergencies, phone lines are clogged so much you could call Japan, but not across the street,” Lee said.

The public needs to realize the threat of a natural disaster is ever-present in Washington, Gross said.

Although the February 2001 Nisqually Earthquake sticks in many people’s minds, many smaller earthquakes happen daily, Lee said.

To prove her point, Lee distributed a map from the Advanced National Seismic System Web site. Fourteen earthquakes had rattled Washington soil within the past week. Two of them had taken place within the last day, one of which centered in Seattle.

The earthquakes measured between a one and a three on the seismic scale. Most earthquakes in Washington do not measure high on the seismic scale, but they happen more often than people realize — and any one of them can prove dangerous, Lee said.

In an earthquake, most people are injured by falling objects. Getting injured by flying objects as one tries to flee a room or building can cause more serious damage than by simply seeking cover instead, Lee said.

“Drop, get under something and hang on,” she said.

Once the immediate danger has subsided, a disaster supply kit may prove useful. The majority of people who retire to shelters during or after storms are there because they did not adequately prepare for the disaster, Lee said. She advised the audience to prepare a kit for future emergencies.

As audience members crowded around a banquet table featuring kit necessities, Lee said many items that prove useful in a disaster kit can often be found in the home.

Water, food, first-aid supplies, tools, clothing, bedding and other special items all have a place in the kit. High-energy foods like granola bars and canned goods, adhesive bandages of assorted sizes, a cleansing agent, scissors, tape, a compass, matches, a battery-operated radio, extra batteries, a signal flare, paper and pencil, maps, rain gear, blankets, sunglasses, diapers, medications and contact lenses are just a few of the items the American Red Cross recommends including in a disaster supply kit.

Have fun with the kit and keep it readily accessible, Lee said. It may take up to a day to assemble, but it will prove beneficial following a disaster.

“No matter what disaster we have, the more you’re prepared, the more likely you’ll get through it and help others get through it,” she said.

In recognition of “Drop, Cover and Hold” day, city officials participated in an earthquake drill Tuesday. An air horn was blown to signify the start of an earthquake. Employees practiced finding cover and remained in one place until the air horn was blown again. At this time employees evacuated City Hall and a roll-call took place.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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