Preparing for the ‘big one’

The Great Washington ShakeOut is this morning (10:18 a.m.)


Sooner or later, Sequim will have a serious earthquake. Not a slow, largely unnoticed one, but a real mover and shaker. 

The Great Washington ShakeOut, scheduled for 10:18 a.m. today, Thursday, Oct. 18, is a statewide opportunity to practice the safety procedures that can save lives during a big one. 

The theme conveys the message: "Drop, Cover and Hold On." 

The ShakeOut is an opportunity to learn what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

Sequim Police Chief Bill Dickinson agreed local citizens need to be prepared for a big one. 

"It does happen," he said.

He noted that while schools practice emergency response, "Emergency managers are worried that the rest of the community is unaware of what to do."

The Oct. 18 ShakeOut is the first of what organizers hope becomes an annual event. The idea is simple: at 10:18 a.m. on ShakeOut day, everyone should stop whatever they are doing — at work, at school or elsewhere — and Drop, Cover and Hold On as if there were a major earthquake occurring at that very moment. And then stay in position for at least 60 seconds. 

So don’t be surprised to see people diving for cover — just join in.

Of course, drivers and others in a position to create havoc shouldn’t come screeching to a halt. There won’t be any freeway closures, power outages or other simulated effects of the hypothetical earthquake. 

Other than that exception, every person who works, lives and plays in Washington is invited to participate in the drill. 

Organizers say, "The best way to ShakeOut is to personalize the experience for yourself. If you will be at work at 10:18 a.m. on Oct. 18, have your entire office practice what they would do in an earthquake. If you are at school, have your class drill. Make a plan with your family. Designate an out-of-state contact. Imagine a real earthquake and how you would actually react to it."

The ShakeOut website also has a guide for families, with tips on teaching your children to Drop, Cover and Hold On. Among the ideas they present: play the "Earthquake Game."

"When anyone says ‘earthquake!’ everyone has to pretend an earthquake is happening and practice their response."

That means ducking for cover, perhaps under a sturdy table, and holding on. If the children are in a room with no suitable cover, they should crouch against an interior wall, away from windows. 

Find an “earthquake-safe” location in every room of the house so they don’t try to run during an earthquake.

Go to to register and for more information on the event.

For posters, fliers, web banners and other promotional items, and for text of articles that can be reprinted in newsletters or on websites, visit

Organizers note that no earthquake is predicted.