PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 3,400 people in Turkey and Syria Monday is causing geologists in the Pacific Northwest to remind people that the area is at risk of its own catastrophic earthquake – and people should be prepared.
The earthquake in Turkey and Syria toppled thousands of buildings and trapped people under mounds of rubble. Thousands of people were injured and authorities expect the death toll to keep climbing.
It’s possible an earthquake like this could rattle Portland at any time, said Scott Burns, a professor of geology at Portland State University.
The city could be impacted by “The Big One,” the name given to the potential earthquake that would occur if the Juan de Fuca plate that’s being subducted under North America were to break from Northern California to British Columbia.
The convergence of these two plates is known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone. An earthquake here occurs about every 500 years on average. If it were to occur, Burns predicts the magnitude would be 9.0 or more.
The second major fault to worry about in the Portland metro area is the Portland Hills Fault. This is located along the mountains west of Portland, in the West Hills.
If an earthquake were to occur at this fault, the magnitude could reach 7.2, Burns said.
With that in mind, Burns said it’s important to stress how necessary it is for people in Portland and the surrounding area to prepare for a major earthquake.
“The more we cover earthquakes, the more people are cognizant of the fact that we have them and we will be prepared. I just want everybody to be prepared for The Big One or any earthquake,” he said.
The best way to do this is to have an earthquake survival kit ready.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has information online on how to build a basic disaster supplies kit.
The U.S. Geological Survey also has a list posted online about what emergency supplies are needed for an earthquake.
Those supplies include:
- A fire extinguisher
- Adequate supplies of medications
- Crescent and pipe wrenches to turn off gas and water supplies
- A first-aid kit and handbook
- Portable radio with extra batteries
- Enough water to last each family member at least two weeks. Allow for at least 1 gallon per person per day.
- Purification tablets or chlorine bleach to purify drinking water
- Enough canned and packaged foods to last several days, along with a mechanical can opener.
- Food for pets, for anyone who owns pets
- A camp stove or barbecue
- Waterproof, heavy-duty plastic bags
Other useful items to include are a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items, copies of personal documents, a cell phone charger, emergency contact information, a blanket, maps of the area and extra cash.
“Have your earthquake kit, your food, your water at home and be prepared in the home. The more we hear about earthquakes, the more prepared everybody’s going to be,” Burns said.
For anyone who doesn’t want to go through the trouble of assembling a kit themselves, the American Red Cross sells pre-assembled survival kits online.
The Red cross also sells individual items for kits, like radios, flashlights and first aid kits.