Thursday’s Great Shakeout is a chance to review emergency preparedness

October 18, 2022
Denise Kern, Public Health Preparedness & Response Section manager

In the last 30 days, Idaho has experienced eight earthquakes with a magnitude 2.5 or greater, all of them clustered in the Sawtooth or Salmon River mountains of central Idaho—and all of them relatively benign.

Most of central Idaho’s recent seismic activity consists of aftershocks from a magnitude 6.5 earthquake that shook the region near Stanley on March 31, 2020, but it underscores that Idaho is a seismically active place where a major earthquake could impact the health and safety of Idahoans.

This Thursday, Oct. 20, is the Great Idaho ShakeOut, a day to think about and prepare for the possibility of a serious earthquake. At 10:20 a.m. (local time), people around the globe will join the ShakeOut to practice earthquake safety in their homes, businesses, and civic groups.

Great Idaho ShakeOut resources include drill manuals and guidance for schools, workplaces, museums, and government offices, including specific guidance for conducting drills during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earthquakes aren’t Idaho’s only potential natural disaster, however, and this week’s ShakeOut is a reminder that Idahoans can prepare for a wide range of emergencies, whether it’s flood, drought, wildfire, or a major blizzard. Being prepared means reducing the immediate negative impact when disaster strikes, and by having a plan, you can connect quickly with family or friends because you’ve planned ahead.

During a public health emergency, access to food, water, daily medications, and other resources may be limited. Individuals, families, businesses, and communities can prepare for all public health emergencies by following a few simple steps.

How to prepare

Create a plan. Your plan should include how you’ll cover or obtain the five basic necessities, including: water, food, energy, shelter, and security.

Setting copies of important documents aside is another important piece of preparedness planning for families and individuals. Important documents include medication lists, marriage certificates, birth certificates, and medical insurance information.

In addition to collecting necessary basics, your plan should focus on the following:

  1. The best way to get to safety (in your home and away from it)
  2. Methods of communication
  3. How to reunite after the disaster

Talk with your whole family and agree on communication signals. Remember that a lot of times during a crisis, phone lines and cell towers may not work. Choose a family member or friend who doesn’t live in your area to be a point of contact, and if disaster strikes that person can be a hub with whom everyone checks in. Note that sending a text message may be more effective during a disaster due to the high volume of phone calls likely being placed.  

When to prepare

Preparing for an emergency begins long before anything happens. Your plan should be developed and practiced. 

Early preparation should also include an emergency preparedness kit that you or your family members can grab quickly.

For more information about emergency preparedness, visit DHW’s Emergency Preparedness webpage where you’ll find resources to get a kit, make a plan, and be informed.