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Duck and Cover: Hermiston high school rocks Great American Shakeout 2017

Duck and Cover: Hermiston high school rocks Great American Shakeout 2017

HERMISTON, Ore. — Students in Mr. Kreder's science class at Hermiston High School got to learn about Geology in action Thursday.

At 10:19 a.m., and shortly after Mr. Kreder threatened to take away a student's cell phone, an announcement echoed over the intercom,

"Staff, we will now be participating in the Great Oregon Shake Out. Please follow all Earthquake procedures at this time. This is an earthquake drill."

The class had been prepped and each student got under their desks while Mr. Kreder, head covered with bare hands, circled the classroom to make sure everyone was participating.

Umatilla County Sheriff's Department Emergency Manager Thomas Roberts said drills like these are an important part of training students to react without pausing,

"If you don't know what to do, you're going to get that deer-in-the-headlights moment where you have to pause and think about it. And that could be the few seconds between saving your life and not saving your life."

He said folks in our neck of the woods could experience a 6.0 earthquake if the Cascadia Subduction Zone ever has activity.

Roberts said in an emergency you need to react instantly,

"If the ground starts to shake there's going to be no notice. It could happen right in the middle of this interview."

The emergency specialist said to get under a desk if you have one handy.

If not, watch for things that might fall.

Power lines if you're outside.

Or, if you're indoors, get away from bookshelves or hanging speakers. Even the ceiling isn't guaranteed to stay put.

He advised getting low against an internal wall, away from windows.

Then cover your head, and hang on.

The potential for danger is why District Communications Officer Maria Duran said the Hermiston school district schedules a drill each year,

"It's an opportunity not just for us to drill, but to remind students that we live in an area that could be affected if there was ever an earthquake."

Duran said the safety of students and staff is a priority and that's why they're getting prepared,

"Hopefully, as peers they talk about it. Even though it may seem like it disrupts the normal lesson, it's an opportunity for them to talk about what they would do."

Even better, she added, if they take it home so their bases are covered for the 16 hours they're not at school,

"Hopefully spark an interest in finding out, 'gosh, what would we do as a family?' "

Roberts said recent emergencies in Houston and Puerto Rico have demonstrated a need for larger emergency "Go Bags".

Rather than preparing for 72 hours, as leaders suggested before, he said recent response times put a more realistic timeline around two weeks.

For customizable lists and shareable contingency plans, he suggests those found on ready.gov.

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