Red CRoss says get prepared now

Kelly Kaspar of the American Red Cros demonstrates how to secure a flat screen TV. - Tracey Compton, Renton Reporter
Kelly Kaspar of the American Red Cros demonstrates how to secure a flat screen TV.
— image credit: Tracey Compton, Renton Reporter

When it comes to earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, people only seem to be concerned if the danger is immediate and eminent, according to disaster preparedness officials.

“Complacency is a big issue when it comes to disaster preparedness,” said Colin Downey, director of communications for the American Red Cross of Western Washington. “If something hasn’t happened in a while, people tend to forget, not take time to update that preparedness kit, have those conversations with family members. And that’s no reason to not be prepared.”

That’s why the American Red Cross was at the home of Mollie Ewing in Renton on June 5 to demonstrate some ways to prepare for earthquakes proactively.

The preparedness walk-through was part of the Red Cross’ “Safe in the Sound” campaign.

“The goal of the “Safe in the Sound” campaign is to show families how to be better prepared for emergencies,” said Downey.

The three-year effort culminates in a multi-agency exhibit called “Passport to Preparedness,” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., June 14, at the Redondo Fred Meyer, 25250 Pacific Hwy. S., Kent. The free exhibit is family friendly and features educational information from the Red Cross, Puget Sound Energy, PEMCO, the Kent Fire Department, the Seattle Sounders and Disney. Free emergency preparedness starter kits will be given to the first 2,000 people to complete an educational challenge.

Seattle Sounders player Cam Weaver will be signing autographs from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. and there will be a Disney performance from 12:15 to 1 p.m.

When asked how much it costs to earthquake proof a typical house, Downey can’t give a fixed number.

“I can’t give you a number on that because it’s really specific to if you’re an individual or you have a family of five kids,” he said. “You also want to have something in your vehicle, at your office. So really it does depend on your specific situation, but it doesn’t have to be expensive.”

So how did Ewing’s house work out?

“Safe in the Sound” Manager Kelly Kasper walked through Ewing’s house demonstrating the Red Cross “fixes” to typical problematic areas.

Kitchen cabinets were secured with child-safety locks to prevent dishes from flying out during an earthquake. Lining with gripping texture was put on top of surfaces. Heavy bookshelves were secured to studs in the wall. Big screen TVs were strapped down with belts that adhere to the back of the TV, out of sight.

Perhaps the safest room in the house was Ewing’s two-year-old’s room. A heavy bookcase was secured to wall studs and the bed was positioned away from the window.

“If an earthquake occurs in the night time, one of the No. 1 emergency room visits is going to be because of damage to your feet,” said Kasper. “So then people step on broken glass and then that fills up emergency rooms.”

The Red Cross sells preparedness kits, but officials say that’s not the only way to be prepared.

“Many times being prepared can start with a conversation at the dinner table after everybody’s cleaning their plates away,” said Downey.

Time can be the first investment, he said, talk about what would happen and have a plan.

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