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the big one

If you’re still reeling from The New Yorker’s widely-read report on “The Really Big One,” today’s Reddit AMA with Northwest seismology experts may offer some solace.

A structural engineer, seismologist, and a variety of preparedness specialists got together to address questions, in the wake of this morning’s Great ShakeOut earthquake drills.

Although the picture painted by the experts isn’t much rosier than the New Yorker’s, it does describe preparedness projects in the works and offer some advice.

Here are seven tips to prepare for the Pacific Northwest’s next seismic event:

1. Avoid unreinforced masonry (red brick, wood frame multi-story structures) and older construction. They are the most vulnerable to damage.

2. Seattle has an estimated 819 unreinforced masonry buildings. If you live in an older building contact your landlord and ask him or her to retrofit it.

3. The most effective way to make an older building safer is to attach it to the foundation. This site has more details for homeowners looking to reinforce their homes.

4. Study coastal inundation maps.

5. Make a plan to connect with family during the emergency. Note that cell service may not be available.

6. Make supply kits. Plan what you’ll need beyond food and water (medications, pet food, diapers, etc.)

7. If you live near the coast and feel strong shaking, run uphill. Get to the highest ground possible as fast as possible.

Other noteworthy comments

  •  The Pacific Northwest is testing an early warning system similar to the one used in Japan today. Early public roll-out is expected in mid 2016.
  •  Earthquakes and water-displacing landslides could trigger “mini tsunamis” in the Puget Sound and local lakes.
  •  Earthquakes can’t be prevented but they can be induced.

Read the full AMA here and check out this blog post for more information about earthquake preparedness.

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