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This Thursday marks the annual Great Oregon ShakeOut drill, and thousands of Oregonians have signed up to practice, prepare and plan for when — not if — a major earthquake hits our state.


At 10:15 a.m. on Oct. 15, millions around the nation and world will practice this drill, creating a sense of urgency for individuals, schools and organizations to get prepared and evaluate what plans need to be improved.

The purpose of this global drill is to increase awareness of its importance and to inspire individuals, communities and organizations to get prepared.

Why is this so important?

Oregon lies at a convergent continental boundary where two tectonic plates are colliding. The Cascadia Subduction Zone, located just off the Oregon coast, is actually a 600-mile long earthquake fault stretching from offshore northern California to southern British Columbia. This fault builds up stress for hundreds of years as the Juan de Fuca and North America plates push against each other.

Eventually, the two plates rip apart, creating some of the largest earthquakes and tsunamis on earth. There are more than 1,000 earthquakes over magnitude 1.0 in Washington and Oregon every year, with at least two dozen being large enough to be felt. Since 1872, there have been 20 damaging earthquakes in Washington and Oregon and an estimated 17 lives lost.

Oregon is also susceptible to crustal earthquakes. The two largest earthquakes in recent years in Oregon, Scotts Mills (magnitude 5.6) and the Klamath Falls main shocks (magnitude 5.9 and magnitude 6.0) of 1993 were crustal earthquakes.

For the state’s nearly 4 million residents, a major earthquake could cause complete devastation.

The 2015 ShakeOut drill will be the largest preparedness event in U.S. history, with more than 500,000 signed up in Oregon alone.

Among them will be North Marion School District, which will not only have the earthquake drill, but will also work with local first responders to run a full evacuation drill and mock parent reunification process. We applaud the district’s enthusiasm, not simply to participate in the basic earthquake drill, but to consider the bigger picture if an earthquake were to occur during school hours.

So why not pledge to take just five minutes out of your busy schedule to “drop, cover and hold on,” a seemingly simple task that could save your life?

To participate, go to www.Shake-Out.org/oregon and pledge your family, school, business or organization’s participation in the drill. Registration is free and open to everyone.

Registered participants will receive information on how to plan their drill and how to create a dialogue with others about earthquake preparedness.

All organizers ask is that participants register (so they can be counted and receive communications), and at the minimum practice “drop, cover and hold on” at the specified time.

A great step for after the drill is to practice how to communicate with family, friends and co-workers. Texting first before making phone calls is highly recommended.

Admittedly, thinking about a catastrophic earthquake is not the most pleasant way to spend one’s time. But ignoring the inevitability doesn’t change the fact that it will happen someday.

So, take some time this week to plan and prepare, and help ensure our community, state and nation are as ready as we can be when the big one hits.

The editorial is the official position of the newspaper and does not necessarily represent the opinion of any individual newspaper employee. The other views expressed on this page are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Woodburn Independent or its staff.