Our Life in the Pacific Northwest

Getting Prepared

Having grown up in California, I’ve been in a few earthquakes. Fortunately, I missed the 1994 Northridge quake that devastated the town I grew up in. My friends and family described it as catastrophic and something they will never forget. That quake was a 6.7 magnitude and considered a moderate earthquake even though it caused major damage. Sections of major freeways collapsed, parking structures and office buildings collapsed, and many apartment buildings suffered irreparable damage. I watched the news for days and saw emergency workers at the Northridge mall, the place I hung out with every day with my friends, trying to rescue people stuck under the rubble. It was heartbreaking to watch the place I grew up in a state of disaster.  The home I grew up in was red tagged (considered unsafe to enter). As a result, we have always tried to be “prepared”.

(Left) Northridge Mall   (Right) My favorite record store when I was a teenager

They’ve been talking about the “big one” for years now. I am referring to the subduction zone earthquake that we are overdue for in the Pacific Northwest. People have been inundated with warnings, scary scenarios and what some would call “over exaggerations” of the impending devastation. Even so, the residents of the Pacific Northwest do need to take notice and plan for the worst.

This is a link to a very scary (and controversial) article called “The Really Big One” in The New Yorker magazine. The tsunami information has been proven inaccurate so don’t panic.

It is fact that we are overdue for a 9.0 or higher subduction zone earthquake. A subduction zone is where two tectonic plates meet and one is sliding under the other. In our case, it is the Juan de Fuca plate moving under the North American plate. The Cascadia Subduction Zone “megathrust” fault stretches from Northern Vancouver Island to Cape Mendocino California.


Since we are considered part of the “Ring of Fire”, the area of seismic activity running along the Pacific shore from Alaska to Chile and from Japan to New Zealand, we live where the most earthquakes happen. And even though we don’t get as many earthquakes as Japan or Chile, we still need to prepare. Subduction zone quakes are the largest and most damaging. Imagine a devastating earthquake lasting over 4 minutes. Most of us are not ready for that kind of shaking. Our homes are not ready for that kind of shaking.

SlowSlipMap_PNSN_20170228151300896_7426083_ver1.0_640_360(Kiro 7 image)

Recently we’ve been experiencing a large amount of “slow slip” tremors which occurs just about every 14 months. Some scientists believe that this puts added stress on the Cascadia subduction zone which may increase the chances of a major earthquake.  Of course, this is nothing to become alarmed over but it is worth keeping in the forefront of your mind.

My husband is prepared. I have to give most of the credit to him for turning a section of our garage into a disaster preparation area. We have water, first aid supplies, canned food, dry food, clothing, flashlights, headlamps, and everything else you can think of to keep us “comfortable” in the event of a natural disaster. Our vehicles are even prepared. We have a large family so it makes sense to have all of the necessities and it gives him something to do.

IMG_5582c                         IMG_5582

Of course, I realize that this is extreme but there are other more reasonable ways to be prepared. I was just at Costco yesterday and saw a 5-day survival backpack which looked to be a pretty good deal for $69.00 if you want just want to ease your mind a bit. You’ll definitely need more water but it’s a good start. My next post will be more specific about what you need to be prepared, lots of information and how to create your own home disaster prep kit.

Considering the laws of average, we could have a major earthquake tomorrow or one hundred years from now. Who knows? For peace of mind, though, I would suggest giving it some thoughtful consideration. Better to be safe than sorry, right?

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