Stay educated on safety, don’t panic about ‘the big one’

Jackie Keating

We’ve pretty much all been warned about it at this point.

Coined “The Really Big One,” a gargantuan, devastating 9.0 (on a 10-point Richter scale) magnitude earthquake is poised to strike along the coastline of our beloved Pacific Northwest, slamming the Washington and Oregon coasts and utterly destroying everything lying west of I-5, according to Kathryn Schulz’s New Yorker article “The Really Big One.”

Many news sources, including well-known ones like The New Yorker, Fox, OPB, and even the Daily Barometer with “Cascadia faultline, should we be worried?” (Published Aug. 5, 2015) have all posted ominous and chilling reports of the imminent earthquake that will take out an estimated 13,000 people in its wake.

And it’s true: The cascadia subduction zone, which is supposed to erupt every 243 years, according to the New Yorker article, is now 85 years overdue.

I am not a geologist or seismologist, and I’m not claiming to be an expert on this subject. I understand that the mega-quake is coming, and that for those of us living west of or near the I-5, there might be some cause for concern. But I had heard about a mega-quake a-comin for our coast in the third grade, when my teacher Mr.Pile scared us all, saying that it was going to destroy our favorite Oregon cities.

Now I am a junior in college, still hearing about this quake, and the extensive preparations being made for it. People are stocking up on provisions, and even buying guns to protect their stockpiles like they’re living in colonial America and the British are coming.

People are afraid. Not me, though.

I’m not afraid of this particular disaster because we can’t know the exact date that an earthquake is coming, and because there are other things to worry about. People have been trying to monger fear about many natural disasters: a volcano under Yellowstone is going to erupt and cover North America in ash, for example (thanks again for that one, Mr. Pile). It could be today, tomorrow, or two hundred years from now. There is no point in listening to the voices urging you to leave the state, or buying a year’s worth of Kirkland Signature packs of canned food from Costco to hide in your closet.

However, there are things you can do to put yourself ahead of the game just in case this thing does rear its ugly head in our lifetimes.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, “preparing for earthquakes involves (1) learning what people should do before, during and after earthquakes; and (2) doing or preparing to do those things now, before the next quake.

Oregon State University has been doing a great job so far in making sure the structures on campus could withstand an earthquake, for example. Personal tips include knowing the best places to take cover during an earthquake (under tables or beds are good places, but avoid windows), and having a gallon of extra water in your residence.

But remember, there is no point in worrying helplessly about something that may not happen until we’re wrinkly old people.

The opinions expressed in Keating’s article do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Barometer Staff.

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