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Prepare to prepare: Get ready for seismic event with help from shakeout.org

The phrase “text first, call later” joins “Drop, Cover and Hold On” as a new Catchphrase For Readiness.

The folks at shakeout.org have coined the phrase as one key point to remember in times of emergency: When seconds count, it is best to communicate with family, friends and co-workers via text prior to, or instead of, making a phone call.

Saturday is the Great Shakeout, a worldwide event to call attention to earthquake preparedness.

On the shakeout.org site you will find many resources such as drill manuals, preparedness guides for people with disabilities, and other earthquake safety tips.

The Pacific Northwest is due for a 9.0 magnitude quake along the Cascadia subduction zone — as early as the next 50 years. According to a recent resiliency report by the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission, also known as the Earthquake Commission, such an earthquake would devastate much of western Oregon. Buildings would crumble; bridges would fall; and thousands of people would die. Oregon would be looking at $32 billion in economic losses.

The ShakeOut Drill is scheduled for 10:17 a.m. on Oct. 17. This means that wherever you are at that moment — at home, at work, at school, anywhere — you should Drop, Cover, and Hold On as if there were a major earthquake occurring at that very moment, and stay in this position for at least 60 seconds. There will not be any freeway closures, power outages, or other simulated effects of the hypothetical earthquake, unless your local government or utility company specifically notifies you about something of this nature. The ShakeOut is not something you need to leave work to participate in — in fact, participating at work is encouraged.

Businesses, organizations, schools, and government agencies can register and have their employees practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On or have a more extensive emergency drill.

The main goal of the ShakeOut is to get Oregonians prepared for major earthquakes. Visit http://bit.ly/16dUj2q for tips on how to prepare, protect and recover.

Even if the Gorge is less affected by a drastic seismic event, it is important to know about what it takes to prepare because Interstate 84 and Highway 35 may become critical transportation lifelines to the Portland metropolitan area in case of heavy damage there.

The details found in shakeout.org take us beyond the “72 hours’ worth of canned food, water and batteries” plan. And preparing for a worst-case scenario such as an earthquake puts the average home or business on good footing, pardon the pun, for power outages caused by floods and snowstorms, events that should reasonably be expected to visit us this winter.

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