Opinion

Disaster Preparedness Month kicks off with 'Drop, Cover, and Hold Drill'

Disaster Preparedness Month A statewide earthquake "Drop, Cover, and Hold Drill" on Thursday, April 4 will serve as the lead-off event for this year's Disaster Preparedness Month. The statewide drill will provide Washington residents with a reminder of what to do during the first few moments of an earthquake.
   "The citizens of our state need to prepare themselves to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours following any disaster," said Governor Mike Lowry in designating April as "Washington State Disaster Preparedness Month."
   "Preparing yourself to come through a major earthquake unharmed is an important first step," added the governor, "and I thank the state's broadcasters for providing all Washingtonians with the opportunity to be part of this safety drill."
   The "Drop, Cover, and Hold Drill" will be aired at 9:56 a.m., April 4, as part of the regular monthly test of the state's Emergency Alert System (EAS). Formerly known to the public as the Emergency Broadcast System, the state EAS is a network of participating radio and television stations.
   Individuals and organizations interested in taking part in the drill should contact their local emergency management offices, or local radio and television stations to find out if the EAS test will be broadcast in their area and, if so, whether it will be aired at the scheduled time or later in the day.
   Sponsored by the Emergency Management Division of the Washington Military Department and local emergency management agencies, Disaster Preparedness Month has been expanded this year to promote preparedness for other hazards, not just earthquakes, the primary focus of previous campaigns.
   Activities throughout the month will encourage citizens, businesses, and community organizations to ready themselves for all types of disasters in the spirit of the campaign's theme, "Prepare, because you care." In addition to the statewide "Drop, Cover, and Hold Drill," there is an emergency preparedness poster contest for third graders around the state, two business disaster planning workshops in eastern and western Washington, and two earthquake safety programs for schools.
   Also, a series of free disaster preparedness guides are available through local emergency management offices, local fire departments, school districts, educational service districts, and other groups.
   Spring is the traditional time of year to focus on disaster preparedness in Washington because in the past 50 years the state has experienced two major earthquakes in the month of April.
   Temblors in Olympia in 1949, registering 7.1 in magnitude, and in the Seattle-Tacoma area in 1965, measuring 6.5 in magnitude, resulted in 15 deaths and more than $200 million (1984 dollars) in property damage. Scientists say Washington state is vulnerable to a major earthquake greater in magnitude than the 1949 and 1965 quakes.
   To begin the drill, radio and television stations throughout the state will air a message on the Emergency Broadcast System.Washington residents who are tuned in will be asked to actually participate in the "Drop, Cover, and Hold Drill."
   How to participate:   For more information on the statewide "Drop, Cover, and Hold Drill" on April 4, or additional earthquake safety tips, contact your city or county emergency management agency, the American Red Cross, or the State Earthquake Preparedness Month Program Coordinator at (360) 923-4551.