This year was the 50th anniversary of the Great Alaska Earthquake. And, earlier this summer, a magnitude 6.2 quake shook Southcentral Alaska.
This state has earthquakes on its mind. That’s why thousands of its residents have already signed up to participate in the largest earthquake drill in the world.
“On October 16th at 10:16, Alaska will be doing the Great Alaska Shakeout, but there’s many other states and nations around the world that will be doing a shakeout drill on the same day at the same time,” says Jeremy Zidek, who works with the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
He says to date, more than 20 million people are signed up to participate worldwide.
That includes more than 76,000 Alaskans. Of that number, 49,000 are from southcentral Alaska, including more than 10,000 from the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
“Alaska is the most active seismic region in the United States,” says Zidek. “We also have had the largest earthquake in North American history and three of the six largest earthquakes recorded in the world. So, it really is important that we prepare for earthquakes here.”
Participants of the Great Alaska Shakeout will simulate being in an earthquake and taking the necessary steps to protect themselves.
“Basically what we want people to do is drop to the ground before the shaking drops them, find some type of cover to protect themselves, and then hold on,” says Zidek.
He says his office found that groups that had regularly participated in earthquake drills were the quickest to act when the real quake struck earlier this year.
“Earthquakes are no-notice events,” says Zidek. “So, they’re going to strike and unless people actively practice what they’re going to do when that earthquake hits, there may be confusion, they don’t know what to do, they don’t remember drop, cover and hold and they try to run out or they expose themselves to other falling objects. So, we really want people to practice the drop, cover and hold, so when the shaking begins, and there’s a little bit of panic, they’ll know what to do.”
Many schools and medical facilities on the peninsula will participate in this year’s Shakeout.
For more information or to sign up, visit shakeout.org.