At 20 minutes to midnight on Dec. 29, 2015, a 4.7 magnitude earthquake gave residents in Langley and throughout the Lower Mainland a jarring reminder that we live in an earthquake zone.
While most people know the region is susceptible to quakes, how many are actually prepared for a major event and have taken steps to ensure they can manage in the days following such a disaster?
Next month, Langley residents will have a chance to experience the sensation of a major earthquake, and be reminded of the importance of being prepared, should that terrifying scenario become reality.
The Quake Cottage, an earthquake simulator from California, is being brought to select municipalities by ICBC and will make an appearance in Langley at Willowbrook Shopping Centre during Emergency Preparedness Week.
On Saturday, May 7, the Quake Cottage will be located in the northwest parking lot of the Willowbrook Shopping Centre, by Toys R Us, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Members of the public are invited to step inside for free, and safely experience what a major quake feels like.
The shaking will last for about 30 seconds and will be equivalent to an 8.0 magnitude earthquake, explained Ginger Sherlock, emergency preparedness co-ordinator for both the City and the Township.
The two municipalities are jointly presenting the Shake Zone event, in conjunction with the Langley Emergency Program.
The free event will feature emergency preparedness information stations that show how an earthquake would affect the day-to-day world, the science behind earthquakes, and outline actions to ensure safety during and after an earthquake.
A community scrawl wall will be set up so people can write or draw how they feel about being better prepared for a real earthquake.
“Being prepared in case of an emergency is something we all talk about, but now is the time to take action and do it,” said Township Mayor Jack Froese.
“Experiencing a major earthquake through the Quake Cottage will likely be very dramatic and make an impact on people. We hope they act on that feeling and take steps to help keep their families safe.”
“The Quake Cottage is coming to just a few municipalities in B.C. from the U.S. this year and we are pleased to welcome it to our community,” added City of Langley Mayor Ted Schaffer.
“We hope Langley residents take advantage of this unique opportunity to visit the Shake Zone and take away valuable experiences and information during Emergency Preparedness Week.”
As part of the event, the Langley Emergency Program is running an ad in the April 29 and May 4 issues of the Times which includes a draw ticket. The public is encouraged to cut out the ticket, bring it to the event on May 7, and enter for a chance to win emergency grab-and-go bags.
“By taking simple actions now, you will be in a much better position to survive an emergency,” said Sherlock, who encourages people to be “prepared, not scared.”
If a major earthquake strikes, she said, the first priority will be to help those who are injured or trapped. Power and phone services could be out for days, water and sewer systems would be shut down, and emergency responders and the health care system would be overwhelmed.
Stores and gas stations would be closed, and while most buildings constructed to code will withstand movement, older buildings could be impacted and transportation routes obstructed.
“Whether you are at home, at work, or on holiday, you will be in charge of your own personal safety. Having an emergency kit and a communications plan with your loved ones is a great place to start,” Sherlock said.