Drill shakes out quake qualms

Nanaimo is about to shake rattle and roll to the sounds of a simulated earth tremor.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue firefighters Mark Overton

Nanaimo Fire Rescue firefighters Mark Overton

Nanaimo is about to shake, rattle and roll to the sounds of a simulated earth tremor.

With a big earthquake certain to strike Vancouver Island sooner or later, the city will emphasize the need to be prepared with another city-wide earth quake drill.

Nanaimo won’t be alone.

The Great British Columbia Shake Out Drive happens Thursday (Oct. 20) at 10:20 a.m. California, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, plus other states in the central U.S., Guam and New Zealand will carry out drills at the same time, making this the largest international emergency preparedness drill to date.

Nanaimo’s last major earthquake drill was carried out Jan. 25.

“From now on, every year, it will always fall on the third Thursday of October and be coordinated with these different states and countries,” said Karen Lindsay, Nanaimo emergency service coordinator. “Part of the reason we wanted to do it a second time in a year is – given the level of excitement and enthusiasm that was shown in the first drill – we wanted to keep the momentum going and by waiting a full year until next October we may lose some of that momentum.”

Nanaimo was rated among municipalities with the highest participation in the last drill.

During the drill participants will be taught to follow the internationally recognized drop, cover and hold on, safety procedure by finding cover under desks and tables and holding on to something until the shaking stops.

Radio stations 102.3 The Wave and 106.9 The Wolf will broadcast simulated earthquake recordings along with instructions on how to conduct an earthquake drill.

“So you drop, cover and hold on during the shaking and then once the shaking stops you count to 60 and evacuate your building if it’s possible,” Lindsay said. “If that’s not feasible then we’re hoping at meetings, or with their family members at home, people will talk about earthquake preparedness and emergency preparedness in general, so its an education and awareness campaign.”

Lindsay said families need to be prepared to survive on their own for at least three days, but preferably for seven days, before emergency services can assist them following a major quake.

“It’s just like going camping for a week,” Lindsay said. “We want people to be prepared for a minimum of 72 hours, but realistically we’re looking at seven days where people can expect to be on their own or not have access to resources.”

The city has also designated four emergency reception centres for families who cannot remain in their homes after a quake and need food, shelter and water. Those centres are Oliver Woods Community Centre, Bowen Park Complex, Beban Park Social Centre and Nanaimo Aquatic Centre.

For more information about earthquake preparedness, please visit the Shake Out B.C. website at www.shakeoutbc.ca.