Preparation is key to survival
If a major earthquake shook Lake Oswego to its core, would you know what to do? Would you have the right supplies? Would you know how to contact your family?
Would you survive?
It's a morbid thought, for sure, but it's the type of thinking that Lake Oswego Fire Chief Larry Goff wants to happen in every household across the city and in the three contract districts his department is sworn to protect — more than 50,000 people in total.
To kick-start the process, Goff will lead a discussion Saturday about what to do before, during and after a major catastrophic event. The gathering, one of more than 30 events planned this month as part of Lake Oswego Reads, is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Main Fire Station (300 B Ave. in Lake Oswego).
"I'm going to talk about the dangers we have here in the Pacific Northwest. We mostly talk about earthquakes. That's the worst-case scenario for us," Goff says. "But if you prepare for an earthquake, you can handle anything. That's certainly what we tell people to start preparing for."
Catastrophe is at the heart of "Good Morning, Midnight," this year's Lake Oswego Reads selection. Lily Brooks-Dalton's post-apocalyptic novel tells the story of two outsiders who find themselves on the fringes of civilization with no idea of what has befallen the planet.
Goff will talk about the three types of earthquakes that threaten the Pacific Northwest — earthquakes in the Cascadia Subduction Zone where the Juan De Fuca Plate meets the North American Plate, interplate earthquakes and local crustal earthquakes.
"All those have potential to affect us. I've taught for a long time that we're in an area subject to earthquakes. We don't know when the next one is coming, but by preparing for it we're better off for those other natural disasters that occur more regularly," he says.
For Goff, preparedness is key. Having a kit containing items such as a first aid kit, water and non-perishable food is a huge first step in preparing for any type of disaster. He'll also talk about making a plan to communicate and reunite with family members, as well as creating an action plan for when disaster does strike.
Goff says it's crucial to remain inside during an earthquake, as most people die not because of structural failure, but from falling debris outdoors.
"During an earthquake, you need to duck, cover and hold on," he says. "What's going to be most problematic is the aftermath. Most people survive the quake, but dealing with the aftermath is important. Downed power lines, gas lines, water being out of service for a while, roads that probably won't be driveable. It will be a mess."
"As proud as we are of our city's emergency services, we know we're not going to be able to take care of everyone. We just can't. That's why individual preparedness is key, and beyond that, neighborhood preparedness — taking care of your neighbors and checking on them," Goff explains.
Although it's important to think about emergency preparedness, Goff cautions not to become too paranoid. Rather than living in fear, preparing for a potential emergency situation can make the real thing feel a lot less daunting.
"I think there is a balance. Don't fear it, but do prepare for it," Goff says. "We don't want people to live in fear, but we also don't want people to bury their head in the sand and say it's never going to come."
IF YOU GO
WHAT: 12th annual Lake Oswego Reads, featuring Lily Brooks-Dalton's post-apocalyptic novel "Good Morning, Midnight"
WHEN: More than 30 events are scheduled throughout the month of February
ON FEB. 24: Lake Oswego Fire Chief Larry Goff will talk about what to do before, during and after a catastrophic event. The presentation is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Main Fire Station (300 B Ave.)
LEARN MORE: Find a complete schedule of events and other program details online at www.lakeoswegoreads.org.