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Have we forgotten about the danger of earthquakes?

Other than the yearly drill that everyone did in elementary school, most people don’t give much thought to earthquake preparedness.

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By Vanessa Broadbent (Contributor) – Email

Print Edition: September 10, 2014

The Fraser Valley may not be truly prepared for a major earthquake to strike. (Image:  UWI Seismic Research Centre/ flickr)

The Fraser Valley may not be truly prepared for a major earthquake to strike. (Image: UWI Seismic Research Centre/ flickr)

Other than the yearly drill that everyone did in elementary school, most people don’t give much thought to earthquake preparedness. An earthquake seems like one of those things we wouldn’t think could happen here. With the one that occurred two weeks ago in Napa Valley, California, I’m beginning to wonder if we are prepared for a natural disaster to hit Abbotsford and the Fraser Valley.

Napa Valley’s earthquake had a magnitude of 6.0 and was the largest earthquake to hit the region in 25 years. Although there were no casualties, the earthquake was very damaging to the economy of Napa Valley — specifically, the wine industry. The area attracts a large number of tourists every year, especially in the fall, and the majority of them go to experience the wineries.  The wine industry has suffered both physically and economically with over $100 million in damages caused by the earthquake.

Could the people of Napa Valley have been better prepared for this natural disaster? Though it isn’t every day that an earthquake hits, a high risk of damage should regardless be addressed with high precautions. As many wineries have suffered extensive damage, we are aware that there could have been prevention had there been a little more thought and planning. Napa Valley’s wine is highly priced due to its exceptional quality, and this caused some wineries to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in product.

So is the Fraser Valley prepared for an earthquake to hit our area? We may not have as many wineries at risk, but there are plenty of other businesses and industries that would be affected by an earthquake. The disaster in Napa Valley may not have had any casualties, but that is not always the case. Even something as simple as how to prevent oneself from injury is unknown by a significant amount of people; it’s simply not something we are faced with on a regular basis.  Earthquake preparedness is taught to children in schools, but after that, the issue doesn’t tend to come up anymore. Young children are taught to hide under their desks at school or in doorways if they’re at home, but in middle and high school, earthquakes don’t ever seem to be addressed. We forget that we are at risk even though a situation like this may seem unlikely to us.

Earthquake preparedness may be an inconvenience, but in the end it’s worth it. We are caught up in our daily routines and couldn’t be bothered by something that will “probably never happen,” but if we look around, it’s clear that it isn’t the case. Earthquakes can and eventually will happen in the Fraser Valley, and we need to take the necessary precautions and ensure that we are prepared for one. What may seem like a great inconvenience to us now could end up not only saving money, but also lives. Let’s think twice before we assume that we don’t need to worry about earthquakes.

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