Licton Springs
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Special Meeting
March 15, 2006
NSCC Student Cafeteria

At 7:05 p.m., Kay Mesirow opened this special meeting of the Licton Springs Community Council, welcoming everyone. There were 45-50 neighbors present. Kay noted that census bureau information tells us that 10,000 people live in the Licton Springs community. She therefore asked those at the meeting to spread the word with their neighbors and friends.

Next she introduced Diane Horswell of the Seattle Police Department. Diane is a member of SDART – Seattle Disaster Aid & Response Team. She provided everyone in attendance with Getting Ready . . . SDART’s guide to Personal & Neighborhood Preparedness.

Earthquakes Diane spoke about the world and national disasters of the recent past. What we in Seattle need to prepare for is earthquake damage. She said our last big earthquake, which was five years ago, originated from the Nisqually fault line and was centered south of Olympia. In the Seattle area, we are most concerned about the Seattle fault. The areas most at risk are West Seattle and Magnolia because of their topography. Over time, the pattern of the Seattle fault has been to cause a notable earthquake ever 25 years. Seattle experienced Seattle fault earthquakes in 1949 and in 1965. We are now long overdue.

But earthquakes in our area are most survivable if you prepare. Houses here, with the exception of brick homes, do not collapse. There are steps we can take to curb damage. It is important for households to have provisions to allow them to get by for at least 72 hours or until normalization.

Tsunami A question was raised on tsunami danger. Diane said that we would not be affected by any tsunamis here because Puget Sound is an inside body of water. Cities and towns on the Washington coast, however, are susceptible to tsunami danger. A tsunami here would be caused by a fault in the Pacific Ocean. Earthquakes originating there are very powerful – in the 9 range – and last for ten to 15 minutes. Unfortunately we have no gauge on the frequency pattern for the Pacific fault. The last large quake was 300 years ago.

Preparedness The number one priority in an earthquake is to protect your head. The old wives’ tale that said we were safest in a doorway is NOT TRUE. Get under tables or on the floor beside a couch.

Everyone needs to have a plan. Decide where you could go in each room of your house, where you can get low and protect your head. If a big earthquake hits, you won’t have a lot of time. If you have already planned and practiced what you are going to do (depending on where you are), you will be much better off.

Diane noted that there was an acknowledged impulse to run outside. This is not the best because there are dangers outside. Objects can be flying through the air.

Out of Area Contact A very important thing for everyone to do is determine an out-of-area (at least 100 miles away) relative or friend that everyone in your family is told to call. This is because long distance lines will be available before local lines in a disaster situation. So if everyone calls an out-of-area number and tells the relative/friend that they are okay, then when the next member of the family calls that same out-of-area number and finds out who is okay and adds the information that they are okay.

Water Storage We need to have three (3) gallons of water for each person in storage – at a minimum. And, not just any water container will do! There are no standards for bottled water and the bottles used to sell water generally are just made to recycle. Diane told us that we need to buy carbonated pop or water bottles to obtain the much stronger bottles that are used for such products. Not only are the bottles stronger, but the caps are much stronger, too, for sealing the bottle to retain the carbonation. There are very detailed instructions in the Getting Ready . . . SDART’s guide to Personal & Neighborhood Preparedness. The water bottles need to be rotated every six months and you need to fill the water (after cleaning the bottles – see page 6) with water from the tap! A lot of people have Brita water purifiers, but in this case the water from the tap will store best for six months in the bottles and is what should be used.

Radio Make sure that you have a battery powered radio to use in times when there is no electricity. Make sure you have extra batteries for the radio.

Preparedness at Work It is necessary to assess your workplace situation. You should have stored water there, as well as good walking shoes, and a hard hat. Plan your route home. Diane noted that the Aurora Bridge has been retrofitted.

SOS Diane told us that there was a website SOS that sold all sorts of useful products. You can obtain a free catalogue and get 10% off your first order if you say that you are with an SDART group.

Natural Gas If necessary, turn off your natural gas. Signs that tell you it is necessary to turn off your natural gas are if you: (1) can smell gas; (2) hear a hissing sound; (3) see disruption in the street; or (4) see unusual activity on the gas meter to indicate a leak. This means you have to know what normal activity looks like on the gauge. Diane said that if you have gas, you have make “friends” with your gas meter. It is also necessary to have the tool to shut off your gas main (which is outside your house) and keep that tool close to the gas meter. She also said to make sure you can move the gas valve. If you periodically move the valve slightly in each direction, you will know that it has not frozen up and you will be able to shut it off in an emergency.

It was stressed to not turn off your natural gas unnecessarily. If you have shut off your gas, you then have to wait in line for the gas company to come and turn it back on. It is possible for people to turn their own gas on, but then they take the risk and liability of doing that on themselves. It’s not a good idea.

Water Water is a precious commodity and in a disaster or emergency can become contaminated. It is wise to turn off your water until you hear from authorities that it is safe for drinking. So, locate your shut-off valve for the water line that enters your house. Make sure that you can totally turn it off.

Electric Power Go to your fuse box. Turn off your circuits one at a time, not in groups.

Hot Water Heater Your hot water heater needs to be secured to the wall. If you have recently purchased a new hot water heat this will have been done at the time it was installed. If your hot water heater is not strapped to the wall, have this done, and done properly. Your hot water heater is a good water source in an emergency. If it is not secured to the wall, it may tip over and spill that precious water supply.

Critical Items Diane told us that it was necessary to keep critical items under our bed – shoes (not slippers), flashlight, hard hat, gloves, and signs (both saying HELP and OK). One thing that can break in an earthquake is window glass and things can fall. You need to protect your head and your feet.

Fire Extinguisher Do you have a fire extinguisher? Many of us do, but have never used one. Make sure your fire extinguisher works and, even more importantly, that you know how to use it!!!

Neighborhoods Neighborhoods should also organize themselves, not just individual homeowners. This way efforts in an emergency can be shared, i.e., First Aid, Safety & Security, Light Search & Rescue, Sheltering and Special Needs, Damage Assessment, and Communication.

We should know when people are at home, where the elderly live, where families with children live, which families have pets.

This has just been a brief recap from an evening where a whole lot of information was given out, and from the questions and answers.

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Ellen M. Beck


This is why the newscasters were able to tell us so quickly after the February 28, 2001’s 6.8 earthquake that, “Folks, this is not the big one.” The 6.8 earthquake originated along the Nisqually fault, not the Seattle fault.


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