Shake Out readies city for quake

NANAIMO – Officials encourage residents to be prepared for disaster.

Nanaimo’s emergency experts are encouraging residents to drop, cover and hold on during this year’s Great British Columbia Shake Out.

The annual provincewide earthquake drill will sound Thursday (Oct. 16), giving participants a chance to flex their emergency savvy.

Last year more than 19,000 people registered for the exercise, which sees participants drop and cover and hold on at 10:16 a.m. when local radio stations broadcast the sound of a simulated earthquake.

Nanaimo’s emergency experts say the event is a reminder of what people have to do in an earthquake, but they also hope people use it to plan ahead.

“It’s a certainty that there will be an earthquake in our future. That’s not a myth,” said Jani Drew, emergency coordinator with the Regional District of Nanaimo. “Knowing that we need to prepare ourselves in advance. We need to be able to leave our homes quickly, have a grab bag, know how to communicate with our family … just the very basics.”

The City of Nanaimo and Regional District of Nanaimo both use the day to do internal evacuation drills and education, but city emergency program manager Karen Lindsay says residents also embrace the day.

“The City of Nanaimo has always been kind of one of the leaders in participation,” she said. “It’s a drill in preparing for the earthquake and then also an education opportunity for people to become informed and educated about what they need to do and starting the process of putting a kit together.”

According to Lindsay, people should pack the essentials for their family, including food, water and clothing, to help them survive seven days after a community emergency.

While most people talk about 72-hour kits, she says we live on an island and reception centres could also take a few days to open and encourages kits that last longer.

For more information, or to register for the Shake Out, please visit http://shakeoutbc.ca/.