Don’t tempt nature, prepare yourself now

Nature’s fury, we are reminded, shows no mercy. It doesn’t distinguish between nationalities, religions or wealth. When it is unleashed, pray that you’re not in the way.

Sunday’s massive earthquake has taken an unimaginable toll in Southeast Asia and East Africa. The coming days will see overwhelming challenges as aid crews battle death, destruction and disease.

An inevitable question in this corner of the world is, “Could it happen here?”

It already has. And, experts say, it’s likely to again.

Most of us maintain a low-level awareness that we live in earthquake country, an awareness that was jolted to the forefront by the magnitude 6.8 Nisqually quake of 2001. Government and private relief agencies are in perpetual ready mode for the next shaker, knowing that their post-earthquake work will be more difficult than it needs to be because too many individuals are not prepared.

Are you? You’ve probably thought about it, perhaps even since Sunday. But have you taken action? Have you put together a family emergency plan, or stocked an emergency survival kit? Do you know how to shut off the water and gas? How would you receive the latest emergency information if the power was out for days?

Individuals, families and businesses should seize this moment to get ready. An event the size of Sunday’s quake and tsunami might not happen tomorrow, but we can’t be sure. The Cascade subduction zone, which sits off the Northwest coastline, set off a quake similar to Sunday’s 300 years ago. Faults run throughout the Puget Sound area, and many are capable of producing major damage and injury.

When an earthquake hits, it will do so without warning, so the only time to effectively address the danger is before it comes.

Let Sunday’s tragedy be the spark for a potentially life-saving New Year’s resolution. Protect yourself and your family now – before it’s too late.

Earthquake info:

Information on how to prepare for and survive an earthquake is available on the Web. The Snohomish County Department of Emergency Services has helpful tips at www.snodem.org/factsheets, and the state posts information at access.wa.gov/emergency/earthquake.aspx.

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