April 29 webinar will introduce state’s new earthquake warning system

The Washington Emergency Management Division and Pacific Northwest Seismic Network are hosting a free webinar Thursday, April 29 from 10 – 11:30 a.m. presenting key information about the state’s new ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning system that will launch next month.

The system, operated by the United States Geological Survey in cooperation with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, is capable of giving residents seconds of warning before earthquake shaking arrives.

The webinar will explain what the system is, how it works and the multiple ways people can receive alerts on their mobile devices. Experts will also provide tips on how to protect yourself before, during and after earthquakes, and how to be prepared before the new warning system goes live on May 4, which will complete the West Coast rollout of the new technology.

It does not predict earthquakes. The alert system rapidly detects and provides information about earthquakes that have already begun and includes an estimate of the earthquake size, precise location and the shaking it may produce. Alerts may be delivered to mobile phones in areas that could experience weak or greater shaking in Washington state.

The majority of earthquake-related injuries are caused by people getting hit by falling objects or falling down while moving during the shaking. Seconds of warning time can allow people to take protective action before shaking begins, reducing the chance of injuries. In most situations, drop, cover and hold on is the recommended way to protect yourself from earthquakes.

The early warning system also has the potential to automatically close water valves to protect water supplies, lift fire station doors so first responders can get vehicles and equipment out, slow down trains so they don’t derail and even warn hospitals to halt surgeries, among many other capabilities. Dozens of pilot projects in Washington are already testing this technology to reduce earthquake damage.

To participate in Thursday’s webinar, go to http://bit.ly/WAShakeAlert

The presentation will also be recorded and posted later on YouTube at www.youtube.com/emdprepare

No registration is required to participate in the event which will include time at the end for questions and answers. Machine-generated captions will be available in English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Russian, Tagalog, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

People can check to make sure their alerts are set at mil.wa.gov/alerts

For more information on how the Earthquake Early Warning system will work in Washington State, visit www.pnsn.org/pnsn-data-products/earthquake-early-warning

To learn more about ShakeAlert, visit www.shakealert.org


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