Great Alaska Shakeout set for Oct. 19

Sirens will go off at 10:19 a.m. for this practice drill in earthquake preparedness

City Clerk Susan Bourgeois demonstrates the correct duck and cover technique for those inside a building during an earthquake. Photo courtesy Joanie Behrends/For The Cordova Times
City Clerk Susan Bourgeois demonstrates the correct duck and cover technique for those inside a building during an earthquake. Photo courtesy Joanie Behrends/For The Cordova Times

At 10:19 a.m. on Oct. 19 Alaska will join the world in preparing for earthquakes by conducting the “Great Alaska Shakeout.” Last year over 130,000 Alaskans participated, including many Cordovans.

The Cordova School District, City of Cordova, US Forest Service, Native Village of Eyak and Cordova Volunteer Fire Department participated in 2016. Maybe your place of work can participate this year, or maybe your family?

It is so easy. Just register at the Great Alaska Shakeout site (takes only a few moments) and then — simply — pretend! Have fun with a very serious topic. Make your body actually do what it needs to do in an emergency. Give yourself and your loved ones a better chance at survival by taking just one minute to practice now, before it actually happens.

At 10:19 a.m. October 19, the tsunami sirens in town will go off to simulate an earthquake and subsequent tsunami warning.

Cordova School District regularly participates in the Great Alaska Shakeout, kindergarten students included. Photo courtesy Joanie Behrends/For The Cordova Times
Cordova School District regularly participates in the Great Alaska Shakeout, kindergarten students included. Photo courtesy Joanie Behrends/For The Cordova Times

Please note: Cordovans are accustomed to hearing the siren go off on Wednesdays at noon. This will not be a Wednesday. Nor will it be at noon. Do not let that frighten you or your family. Tell everyone. It is a drill.

At that time, everyone who chooses to participate drops to the ground, finds cover and holds on for a while to simulate the real thing.

The best part of this (and it is just so cool!) are the associated sound effects you can play on a computer to make it sound as if an earthquake is actually happening. “The Shakeout Drill Broadcast” is available in English and Spanish. One recording gives direction as to what participants should do, while another recording just sounds like an earthquake is happening. Check this site out now and imagine turning it up as loud as you can during the drill. It actually shakes a small room with the noise. It is one of numerous resources available for the event. Visit: https://www.shakeout.org/downloads/broadcast/universal/ShakeOutDrillBroadcastSoundEffects.mp3

Alaska is actually one of the most seismically active areas in the entire world. Many Cordovans remember the 1964 earthquake. They distinctly remember where they were. They distinctly remember what it felt like. They distinctly remember the chaos in the aftermath.

“Great” Alaskan earthquakes happen, on the average, every 13 years. We know there will be an earthquake again. We just don’t know exactly when — and we don’t know how big. The good news is there is much we can do to prepare ourselves for the next big one.

So, what do we do DURING an earthquake?

  • DROP. COVER. And HOLD ON.
  • Stay calm
  • If inside: crouch under a desk or table. Stay away from windows or glass and watch for falling objects.
  • If outside: stand away from buildings, telephone and electric lines, and trees.
  • If “out-the-road”: stay off the bridges; stop in a safe area and stay in your vehicle.

What do we do AFTER an earthquake?

  • Check for injuries and provide first aid. Have you had a first aid course lately? Call the Cordova Volunteer Fire Department at 907-424-6117.
  • Check for safety hazards: gas, water or sewage breaks, downed electric lines, building damage and turn off appropriate utilities.
  • Carefully clean up dangerous spills. Call Cordova Volunteer Fire Department for specific questions regarding this topic.
  • Listen to the radio: Do you have a battery powered portable radio? Listen in for public safety guidelines or, if the internet is working, watch the city website, www.cityofcordova.net, for information.