Students, faculty and staff learned to drop, cover and hold on this Wednesday. On Oct. 21, Montana State University participated in Great ShakeOut Montana, part of the worldwide Great ShakeOut, the largest earthquake preparedness drill in the World. Tara Moore, director of the Office of Emergency Management and emergency management coordinator, said, “it gives us an opportunity to get the word out about earthquake preparedness.”
The drill took place Wednesday at 10:21 a.m. Professors and teachers were asked to take a few minutes out of their class time to conduct the drill, and there were even lesson plans online if they want to take the opportunity to ensure that their students prepare for an earthquake. While participation in the event is not required, “we at Montana State encourage all students, faculty and staff to participate in whichever way they feel necessary” said Moore. An email sent by President Cruzado reminded people of the event, and encouraged students and staff to “consider emergency actions they can take to protect themselves before, during, and after an earthquake.”
Staying safe in an earthquake requires taking certain precautions both during and prior to the event. The first step, according to the Earthquake Country Alliance, is to “secure your space.” To do this, “move heavy objects to lower spaces, also secure things like bunk beds,” Moore notes. Secondly, a plan for action after an incident should be formulated, as communications may be down due to the event or due to the overflow of people trying to contact each other.
The third item on the list of precautions is to create a disaster supply kit. “We highly recommend that students in the dormitories here on campus have a go-bag in the case of an emergency,” Moore stated. A go-bag could include things like food and water, but also a first aid kit and proper clothing to possibly spend hours displaced into Montana’s brutal winters. Minimizing financial hardship is the last step in earthquake preparedness. Minimizing financial hardship can be done through structural checks and improvements and keeping important documents safe. The Earthquake Country Alliance notes that “after the immediate threat of the earthquake has passed, your level of preparedness will determine your quality of life in the weeks and months that follow.”
During and after an earthquake there are some essential steps to take to ensure survival. The first one is to drop, cover and hold on during the shaking. “You never want to move, or try to go somewhere during an earthquake,” Moore said. “The people who do that suffer the most injuries.” After the initial tremor, improve safety. Evacuate unsafe buildings and areas, help clear easy to mitigate hazards like broken glass, and only use the cell networks if there is an immediate emergency, or to send a short text message to an out of state (if possible) family member. Finally, it is time to rebuild. Help neighbors to re-establish the community, and volunteer to help repair the damage. As many other natural disasters have shown, the only way to rebuild yourself, is to rebuild the community.
Please go to montana.edu/emergency for more information on how to be ready for a natural disaster.