By Russell Ackerman
Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security
Used with Permission Fort Greely Interceptor
At 5:36 p.m. on March 27, 1964, the largest earthquake ever recorded in North America, and the second largest in history, rattled coastal Alaska for close to four minutes. Though the epicenter of the Great Alaskan Earthquake was deep beneath Prince William Sound — 75 miles east of Anchorage and 56 miles west of Valdez — the magnitude 9.2 temblor rippled water as far away as Louisiana and even made parts of Florida and Texas jump a couple of inches.
What to Do If There Is an Earthquake
If you are indoors:
Do not run outside. There may be falling debris. If possible, DROP to the floor, take COVER under a table or sturdy piece of furniture and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If you are not near any sturdy furniture, crouch in a corner or in a stable doorway where there is less chance of things falling on you. Stay away from windows, light fixtures, unstable furniture or anything that could fall. Stay inside until the shaking stops and you are absolutely sure it is safe to go outside. The electricity may go out, so don’t use elevators.
If you are outdoors:
Statistics show that the most injuries in earthquakes are caused by falling debris. Move into an open area away from buildings, street lights, utility wires and anything else that could fall. Once in an open area, drop to the ground.
If you are in a moving vehicle:
Stop as soon as you can, away from buildings or anything that could fall. Stay in the vehicle. Proceed very slowly once shaking stops. Once you are in a safe place, report to your command if you are military or government civilian personnel or a member of the selective reserves.
But what claimed 115 of the 131 lives that day wasn’t the earthquake itself. It was the tsunami waves that screamed across Prince William Sound and down the Pacific Ocean. The quake had caused several underwater landslides that, in turn, displaced vast amounts of water. The great volume of water that was forced out to sea returned just as quickly, in the form of giant waves that geologists call local tsunamis.
How to Prepare for a Tsunami
Stay informed and know tsunami terminology:
Advisory—An earthquake that could produce a tsunami has been detected. Warning—A tsunami that could cause damage has or may have been produced. People in the warned area are strongly advised to evacuate. Watch—A tsunami has or may have been generated and has a travel time to the area of at least two hours.
Determine whether you live, work or recreate in an area with the potential to be hit by a tsunami. Determine where tsunami signs are located. Get an emergency supply kit. Develop an evacuation procedure as a family. You should identify a place to evacuate that is at least 100 feet above sea level or two miles inland. You should be able to reach it within 15 minutes.
What to Do If There Is a Tsunami
Stay tuned to the radio or TV for more information or instructions. Authorities will issue a warning only if they are certain a threat exists. Stay away from the beach. A large recession of the water is nature’s warning of a tsunami. Heed this as you would an official warning. There may be little time between a warning and the tsunami, so if you are told to evacuate, do so immediately.
If you hear an official tsunami warning or are told to evacuate:
Immediately get to higher ground, preferably a previously identified area. Take your emergency kit. Once you are in a safe place, report to your command if you are military or civilian personnel or a member of the selective reserves.
Information is available from federal, state, local, and Army resources. Access Ready.gov and Ready Army (http://www.acsim.army.mil/readyarmy/index.htm) to learn what to do before, during, and after an emergency.
For further information, briefings or presentations contact Russ Ackerman at 873- 9145 or e-mail Russell.firstname.lastname@example.org