The Great Shakeout – more than an exercise

The Edmonds tsunami warning siren being installed in June 2021. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

The Great Shakeout Earthquake Exercise is approaching quickly. It is a great time to not only participate in an earthquake exercise at work and with your family, but it provides an opportunity to discuss disaster preparedness with your family, friends and community.

The Great Shakeout Earthquake Exercise is being held on Thursday, Oct. 20, at 10:20 a.m. As part of the exercise, all City of Edmonds buildings, departments, and divisions, will be participating.

Usually, on the first Monday of the month, the All Hazards Alert Broadcast Siren (AHAB), located on Dayton Street, at the Port of Edmonds, is tested at noon with the Westminister Chimes and a voice message. During the Great Shakeout, (the third Thursday in October), the actual tsunami siren will activate for a full three minutes. The time of the event coincides with the date, so this year, the full siren activation will occur on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 10:20 am.

The siren is designed to be heard outdoors only. If you wish notice of a tsunami or other natural disasters while indoors, it is best to have a NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radiofor notification.

Since this is a statewide, regional and city-wide event, I am inviting all citizens to meet me at the corner of Dayton Street and Sunset Street (147 Dayton St.) at 10:15 a.m. on Oct. 20, to listen to the actual siren wail and to receive answers to your preparedness questions from anyone who may accept my open invitation to take part in the exercise.

I’d also like to invite citizens who are at home or working, to step outside and listen for the siren. Please let me know if you heard the wail or not. You can send your results to me at  The results will provide details about how far people could hear the siren if they were outdoors, on the beach or boat during a siren activation.

More preparedness information:

Hurricane Ian was devastating to multiple states, impacting millions of families. There was notice to evacuate the area prior to the event occurring, (saving thousands of lives), yet the impact has been almost unimaginable to everyone.

Working on family plans for emergency and disaster, are paramount for all communities, families, and friends. What if the Hurricane was a large no notice earthquake, (such as one occurring along the South Whidbey Island Fault that virtually runs under the city), impacting the region, knocking out power, water and communication for multiple days?

If you are not able to meet with your family during The Great Shakeout, make time during the weekend or another weeknight to discuss some of the following issues:

– Would you know how to communicate with family members if all are separated by work, school or perhaps by running errands to the local store when the event occurred?

– What do your home, auto and rental insurance actually cover in a disaster?

– Do you have a Go Kit or Get Away Bag in your car, at home, in work or school, in the event you could not return to your home?

– Do you have additional prescription medicine to last a few days?

– Are your personal contacts stored in your cell phone, which may not work due to power and cell tower issues?

– Do you have a few dollars in $1, $5, and $10 denominations in the event you need to purchase something, and the cash register won’t work due to loss of power, thus eliminating the use of credit cards?

– Do you have enough food and water to supply you at home for a minimum of 2 weeks until assistance arrives, and utilities are restored?

– Is anyone CPR and 1st Aid certified, and are there any basic medical supplies at home?

– Does someone living with you have a medical condition that requires monitoring such as a need for Oxygen, dialysis or diabetes?

  • What if someone you live with is disabled and/or has motility issues?
  • What if you live alone?
  • What do you do with your pet(s)?
    • Where would they stay?
    • What will they eat?
    • Do they have identification in the event they are separated from you?

Disaster preparation begins with each of us and will help reduce the impact any event has upon us, our families and community.

If you would like someone to speak about disasters and disaster preparedness at your community meeting, condominium association or workplace, please feel free to reach out to me at

— By Chuck Wallace
City of Edmonds Safety and Disaster Coordinator

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