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This is a Drill! This is Only a Drill!

[Posted August 27, 2021]

Contributed by Robin Jensen and Patrick Pangburn for Hillsdale NET

This is the eleventh and final article in a series brought to you by the Hillsdale Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) and the Hillsdale News. To read earlier installments, click here.

The articles will help you prepare your family and our community for a major natural disaster, as well as share information on Hillsdale NET and what it does. We hope you have found the content helpful and informative.

To learn more about the NET program or sign up for NET training, visit the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management NET website. There are also many auxiliary volunteer opportunities available with our Hillsdale NET team. Email to find out how you can help.


Picture this scenario:

You were awakened at at 4:14 am by an 8.6 magnitude earthquake centered just south of Salem. You, along with 85% of Multnomah County households, are without power with no estimate for when it will be restored. Your natural gas is not flowing due to delivery pipes that broke during the shaking. You have received an alert on your cell phone from Portland Bureau of Emergency Management with a warning not to use city water for drinking, food preparation or bathing and not to use your toilet to dispose of waste. The warning also advised you to stay tuned for further alerts from the city.

The events imagined above are considered likely following the Cascadia subduction zone earthquake that experts predict could hit sometime in the next 50-150 years. (The likelihood of a 7.1 magnitude subduction event within the next 50 years is estimated to be 37%.)

As you read this now, in the absence of the stress and anxiety of an actual disaster, ask yourself: “Am I confident that my family and I are prepared for such a disaster?” The following questions can help you determine the answer:

  1. How many gallons of safe drinking water do you have stored and available right now? You should have at least one gallon per person per day for five days. Make sure you have enough for your pets as well.

  2. Do you have enough stored food for five days for each person in your home? If any of your stored food requires cooking or heating, do you have a camp stove and fuel or another source of heat for cooking?

  3. Do you have pee/poo buckets assembled and ready for use? Do you have hand sanitizer or another method for handwashing?

  4. Do you have sturdy shoes, work gloves, eye protection and flashlight or headlamp for everyone in your household likely to pitch in on cleanup and hazard removal?

  5. Do you have a portable radio and power source (batteries, charger, solar, hand crank)?

  6. Do you have a way to charge your cell phone?

  7. Do you have enough prescription medications for everyone in your family (including pets) for at least seven days?

  8. Do you have originals or copies of all important documents in one safe place that you can access should you need to evacuate?

  9. Do you know the location and have the proper tools to turn off your natural gas supply?

  10. Bonus question: What station do you tune to on your portable radio for emergency information? (We’ll throw in this one for free: in Portland it is KOPB 91.5 FM.)

How did you fare in this drill? If you are pleased with your preparations, pat yourself on the back (and make sure you have a plan to replenish supplies on a regular basis to maintain your readiness). If you still have work to do, read the rest of the articles in our emergency preparedness series and consult these additional resources:

September is National Preparedness Month—make it an event and get yourself ready!

Back to the drill:

It is now 6 am. No one in your family is injured and a quick survey reveals that your home has some cracked ceilings and two broken windows but is otherwise undamaged. You have used your out-of-area emergency contacts list to let your extended family know that you are safe. You have checked your emergency supply cache and feel confident that the preparations you made before the disaster will help you, your family, and your community get through until governmental agencies can respond.


Have you found these articles useful? Please let us know if you have, and how they have impacted your emergency preparedness planning. Are there topics we missed that you wish we had covered? We'd like to know that as well.


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