HSU takes steps to keep students prepared for the next earthquake

By Todd Harp
Flapjack Chronicle

Marissa Mourer, orientations and preview programs manager at HSU, feels it’s important to inform new members of the area about earthquake preparedness and other relevant local issues.

“I do think it’s important to educate new members of our community about our local environment,” Mourer said. “[Such as] water safety, earthquakes, sneaker waves, etc.”

According to Living on Shaky Ground, published by the Humboldt Earthquake Education Center, HSU and Humboldt County as a whole, is one of the most beautiful places in the country with its tall mountains, hundreds of hiking trails, beautiful beaches and clean crisp air. On the other hand, it is one of the most earthquake-prone spots in North America.

Humboldt County sits on what is known as a Cascadia Subduction Zone. That is where two plates collide and one sinks under the other. The Cascadia Subduction Zone has the capability to produce magnitude 9 earthquakes which makes this area the most active area in the United States.

Even though it has been awhile since the last significant quake has hit this region, it can happen again at any time — and most likely at a time when residents are not expecting it. Every year, HSU takes part in the Great American Shakeout which is a good way to educate students on the correct procedures to take when encountering a real earthquake. HSU also educates new students on earthquake preparedness at orientation and hands each student a brochure.

According to Mourer, not only do they educate students at orientation but the UPD also provides flyers prior to orientation in the spring semester for admitted students.

“We include info on what to do in the event of an emergency-including earthquakes-in our freshman orientation,” Mourer said. “Also, UPD provides a flyer to be included in the guest folders during our Spring Preview event.”

Otmane Ikinou, 20, is a foreign exchange student from Morocco. He has learned about earthquakes from others at school as well as from orientation where they talked on it and handed out brochures.

“When I came here everyone talks about earthquakes and preparedness for it,” Ikinou said. “Even at orientation at the beginning of the fall semester they talked to us about earthquake preparedness.”

Ikinou feels that he is prepared in the event of an earthquake but hopes he never encounters one.

Lori Dengler, director of the  Humboldt Earthquake Education Center and a past chair of HSU’s geography department,  has some good tips that will help keep students prepared for the next earthquake.

One tip is to stay informed and connect with others in advance.

“The first step to preparedness is to talk about it-to house mates, family, co-workers, etc.,” said Dengler.

Secondly, identify hazards such as objects that could fall and injure anyone in the area.

Next,  protection during the quake is to remember these three words: drop, cover and hold on.

“It’s pretty simple- if you are awake and up and about, drop to the ground as soon as the shaking starts,” Dengler said. “If there is a table or desk nearby, slide under it and hold on.”

Lastly, evacuate as soon as it is safe to and meet at planned evacuation site.

According to Dengler, many websites exist that students can visit to stay prepared. One recommendation is the brochure, Living on Shaky Ground, written by Dengler and local HSU instructors. You can check it out at www.humboldt.edu/shakyground  or you can pick up a copy in the Geology Dept.

Other helpful sites Dengler recommends include:




If you have any questions or want more assistance contact the Humboldt Earthquake Education Center at 826-6019.


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