University leads the way for “Great Nevada ShakeOut”

10/13/2010 - By: Mike Wolterbeek

Momentum is building in the Great Nevada ShakeOut, part of the country’s largest earthquake drill with 97,000 (and counting) Nevada participants registered, to “drop, cover and hold-on” at 10:21 on 10/21.

“The University of Nevada, Reno and the Washoe County School District make up the bulk of the participants so far, with a fair number of individual schools in southern Nevada coming aboard,” Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory in the College of Science said. “We’re looking forward to more schools, businesses and industry in southern Nevada and around the state joining in the ShakeOut.”

Students, faculty and staff were automatically signed up when the University registered, Kent said, so it’s not necessary for them to go online to register. Everyone is encouraged to visit the Great Nevada Shake Out for information on the statewide drill and earthquake preparedness.

“We also want everyone on campus to be a part of the campus Emergency Alert system,” Kent said. “You can sign-up to receive emergency alert emails and text messages at Emergency Alerts.”

Participants will be instructed, through the emergency alert system, wherever they are on 10/21 at 10:21 — at home, at work, at school, anywhere unless they’re driving — to drop, cover and hold on as if there were a major earthquake occurring at that very moment, and to stay in that position for at least 60 seconds.

While the exercise can be as simple as that, the University is taking the opportunity to practice its emergency communications networks for the ShakeOut by sending text messages and mass e-mails, activating City Watch (reverse 911), sending a mass telephone voicemail and using Wolf Pack Radio to notify students and employees at 10:21 on 10/21. Several buildings, including some residence halls, will have expanded drills that may include evacuation.

The Seismological Laboratory has teamed Nevada up with California’s successful Great ShakeOut to build awareness and get residents to practice how to respond in an earthquake. More than 6 million people have already registered in the bi-state event.

“We share fault lines, so why not share the ShakeOut,” Kent said. “Earthquakes on these fault lines can affect both states and it will be better for us to strengthen our partnership before a large earthquake rather than afterward. Last week there was a swarm of magnitude 3 to 4 earthquakes near the Furnace Creek fault on both sides of the border, and the swarm is still active.

“Nevada can have three to four magnitude 7 earthquakes each century – it’s been nearly 60 years since the last one,” Kent said. “We don’t know when or where the next one will happen, so we all must be prepared.”

Last year, the event had involvement from nearly 20 percent of California’s population and the drill is expected to include more than 10 million people this year with the participation of Nevada, the first state to join with California in this massive effort to have people learn to prepare and practice for earthquake response.

This year, participants are also encouraged to “secure your space,” which includes retrofitting buildings to reduce damage and securing things within that building to prevent injury.

“With many of the recent large earthquakes occurring in the world, awareness is up and interest is high, making this an ideal time to impart important information to Nevada residents,” said Kent.

The State of Nevada is located in “earthquake country.” It lies within the Basin and Range Province, one of the most seismically active regions in the United States. Along with California and Alaska, Nevada ranks in the top three states subject to the most large-scale earthquakes over the last 150 years.


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