Emergency Management Otago
15 October 2019
Over 50,000 people around Otago will be on their hands and knees under sturdy furniture this Thursday as they take part in ShakeOut, the national earthquake drill.
The drill is a chance for people to practice the right actions to take in a strong earthquake, Emergency Management Otago Director Chris Hawker says.
Otago is laced with active fault lines, including the Titri, Akatore, Moonlight and Cardrona faults. Any one of them is capable of causing a severe earthquake that would result in casualties, damage to buildings and infrastructure, and extended disruption to normal life. That’s not including the Alpine Fault, which is known to rupture on average every 300 years – most recently in 1717.
“We can’t predict earthquakes, but we can prepare for them,” Mr Hawker says. “We build up muscle memory by practising so if your mind goes blank when the shaking starts, you will automatically find yourself doing the right thing – drop, cover and hold.”
Dropping to hands and knees protects you from falling. Taking cover under a sturdy table or desk, if it’s within a few steps), protects you from being hit by falling objects. Holding on until the shaking stops gives stability.
More people have registered for ShakeOut in Otago this year than in 2018, including Otago University students and staff, who took part in the drill early as part of the OUSA emergency preparedness week activities last month.
Mr Hawker said that Emergency Management Otago’s public awareness and preparedness survey found that 83% of Otago residents understood that earthquakes could directly affect them and their family, but not everyone knew what to do. “Taking part in the drill will help people learn the right way to respond. It could save lives.”
The national earthquake drill is held annually on the third Thursday in October, aligning with international ShakeOut activity that millions of people around the world take part in. There is still time to sign up and participate. If it’s not convenient for a workplace or group to hold the drill at 1.30pm on Thursday, people can choose another day or time that suits them.
Register online at www.getready.govt.nz