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Arlington families learn about disaster preparedness


January 24, 2018 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

Michelle Boll, program coordinator at the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, shows Arlington families some of the items that can go into an emergency kit on Jan. 17.

Michelle Boll, program coordinator at the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, helped Arlington families learn the best ways to prepare for an emergency on Jan. 17.

In her presentation at the Arlington Library Boll talked about current understandings of how emergency situations will affect the Arlington area.

She said that people should prepare for the most likely events for the areas they live in and the areas they work at.

For the Arlington area she said that is mainly wind storms and earthquakes.

Glacier Peak, which is just east of Darrington, is the closest volcano.

"Of all the volcanoes in our state, that's the one that they feel will be the next one to go off," said Boll.

Although she said the most likely areas to see damage and emergency situations are north of Glacier Peak, as the south has more natural buffers.

Tsunamis have more effect on coastline areas, said Boll, and wildfires are not that likely.

While earthquakes are not common, they present the most risk for the area.

"With earthquakes, we don't have them all the time, but when we do have the big one it will affect us greatly," said Boll.

Washington state is at the second highest level of economic risk with earthquakes in the U.S., second only to California.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone has the highest magnitude potential, as it is where the continental and oceanic plates meet.

"It is so large and has the potential to create a 9.0 or as much as a 9.5 quake," she said.

The South Whidbey Island Fault and the Devils Mountain Fault are other local faults that could affect the Arlington area as well.

During an earthquake the thinking used to be to get under a door jamb, said Boll, but now the preference is for people to get under a table if possible and to travel the shortest distance.

"A lot of injuries in our neck of the woods have to do with falling objects," said Boll.

If in a vehicle, you should pull over and stay in the vehicle, she said.

Boll said that in 2016 state officials got together to see what a big earthquake could do to the state.

"A lot of our infrastructure is going to be really, really messed up," she said.

Families should plan to spend around 14 days without simple access to food, water, gas or power.

"You might be okay for a while on your generator, but it probably works on gas and how quickly are we going to run out of that?" said Boll.

Grocery stores may quickly run out of food after an earthquake, and roads and bridges may be out, cutting off the supply.

Boll said that 14 days is an increase from previous estimates which encouraged emergency supplies be kept for around 3 days or 7 days.

In addition to supplies, families should have a plan of where to meet up if their home is destroyed and they are elsewhere in the community.

"How are you going to re-unify with your family if you can't communicate with them and can't get to where your home is," said Boll.

An out-of-area contact is also useful to coordinate between family.

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The South Whidbey Island Fault is one of the closer faults to Snohomish County that could damage local buildings and infrastructure if an earthquake occurs on it.

"All the local lines might be inundated, but you may be able to get through to an out-of-area person," said Boll.

Out-of-area contacts should be at least 100 miles away, she said.

Text messaging is another way of communicating that uses less bandwidth so is more likely to get through in an emergency, said Boll.

First-aid knowledge could be vital in an emergency.

"You probably have things that you can manage for small injuries, because when you have a big injury you're calling 911," said Boll.

However in an emergency situation, paramedic response may be tied up elsewhere.

"It's life-saving if someone is bleeding out very quickly if you know what to do," said Boll.

Boll also encourages residents to take part in local trainings like Community Emergency Response Team programs or the Map Your Neighborhood program to get more help preparing for disasters.


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