EVERETT — Coastal residents in Everett and elsewhere will hear the wailing screech of a tsunami siren around 10:20 a.m. Thursday, but don’t be alarmed.
It’s part of the annual Great ShakeOut, an international drill to prepare for a major earthquake. People in schools and businesses across Snohomish County will drop what they’re doing to cover their heads and hold on tight.
Warning sirens will sound in waterfront areas where tsunamis go hand-in-hand with earthquakes.
In Everett, it will be an actual tsunami siren, not the Westminster chimes that sound during monthly tests, said Steven Friederich, a spokesperson for the state Emergency Management Division. This louder, higher-pitched tone is likely to travel further inland where people may not be used to hearing it.
Schools and businesses will take a moment to practice the “drop, cover and hold on” method, which Friederich says is the best way to stay safe when the ground starts shaking. The name is self-explanatory — drop to the ground, seek cover under a desk, table or other heavy object, and hang on tight until shaking stops.
“A lot of people learned when they were kids to take shelter in a doorway or to run outside,” Friederich said. “But it’s been shown in recent years that those methods still leave you more vulnerable than drop, cover and hold on.”
The Great ShakeOut is a great opportunity for offices to discuss a plan of action in the aftermath of the real thing, Friederich said. Kids in school who have been through the drill can inspire their families to figure out what they will do if they’re separated from one another. It’s also a chance to put together an emergency preparedness kit.
The event started in 2008 in Southern California.
This year over 1.3 million Washington residents have registered to participate, with about 129,000 of those being from Snohomish County. No registration is necessary, however. Information on drills, earthquake preparedness and safety can be found on the Great ShakeOut’s website, shakeout.org.
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