Note: This is day 14 of National Preparedness Month. Follow this year’s campaign on Twitter by searching for the #NPM or #NPM13 hash tag.
This month, as part of NPM13, I’ll be rerunning some updated preparedness essays (like this one) , along with some new ones.
The Great California Shakeout drill, which began in 2008, has now generated more than 20 spinoffs around the world, and most of those drills are scheduled for the month of October.
(click image to visit Shakeout.org)
Millions of residents, from the United States and Canada, to New Zealand, Italy, and Japan, will take part in this yearly Drop, Cover, & Hold On drill. A video, demonstrating the technique is available on the California Shakeout Youtube Channel.
If you live in any of these regions, I would encourage you to participate in, and support, these annual disaster drills.
As you can see by the map below, much of United States is seismically active – with Alaska, Hawaii, the west coast, and the Midwest seeing the most – and strongest, quakes.
In 2011, in Estimating The Economic Impact Of A San Andreas Quake, we looked at a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that endeavored to gauge the crippling impact that a highly feasible (and long overdue) 7.8 magnitude Southern California earthquake would have on jobs and local businesses.
A quake of this magnitude, they estimate, could affect 430,000 businesses and 4.5 million workers and deliver a devastating – and prolonged – blow to the local economy.
While huge death tolls are considered unlikely in this scenario, the untimely demise of thousands of unprepared businesses is all but assured.
One of the most vulnerable areas to earthquakes (and tsunamis) in North America is the Pacific Northwest, where just over 311 years ago an earthquake and tsunami – likely on par with this year’s disastrous quake in Japan - struck the coastline.
You’ll find a greater description of this event, along with videos and simulations showing what a similar event today would produce, in my essay Just A Matter Of Time.
Since we can’t prevent earthquakes, or predict them, the only recourse is to prepare for them . . . as individuals, businesses, and communities.
For a comprehensive guide on how you can prepare for `the big one’ (even if you live someplace other than Los Angeles), I would recommend you download, read, and implement the advice provided by the The L. A. County Emergency Survival Guide.
And even those who do not live in an earthquake zone can be affected when a large earthquake, or volcanic eruption, occurs . . . even if it is thousands of miles away.
Large earthquakes can generate massive tsunamis, which can travel thousands of miles in a matter of a few hours. We’ve looked at the United State’s tsunami risks recently, in NPM13: The USGS West Coast Tsunami Scenario Report & East Coast Tsunami Threats.
Volcanic eruptions can affect large areas of the globe as well.
- When Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, within a year its aerosol cloud had dispersed around the globe, resulting in `an overall cooling of perhaps as large as -0.4°C over large parts of the Earth in 1992-93’ (see USGS The Atmospheric Impact of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo Eruption).
- And In 1783 the Craters of Laki in Iceland erupted and over the next 8 months spewed clouds of clouds of deadly hydrofluoric acid & Sulphur Dioxide, killing over half of Iceland’s livestock and roughly 25% of their human population. These noxious clouds drifted over Europe, and resulted in widespread crop failures and thousands of deaths from direct exposure to these fumes. A repeat of this scenario is still considered a serious threat (see UK: Civil Threat Risk Assessment)
Which is why everyone should have a disaster plan, not just those who live in an earthquake or hurricane prone area.
For more on disaster preparedness, I would invite you to visit: