City of Cannon Beach

Earthquakes & Tsunamis

Recent research has confirmed that the Oregon Coast is subject to a significant risk of large earthquakes associated with what is known as the Cascadia subduction zone. Such an earthquake will cause extensive damage. These earthquakes can generate tsunamis that will inundate low lying areas requiring evacuation to higher ground. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami that occurred in Japan in 2011 was caused by a subduction zone earthquake similar to one that might occur off the Oregon Coast. Earthquakes originating in the Willamette Valley can also impact the Oregon Coast. The amount of damage an earthquake causes depends on many factors, but there is much one can do to reduce the likelihood of serious injury, loss of life, and damage to the home, as well as the make recovery easier after the earthquake.

Before An Earthquake

Emergency Plan

Develop an emergency plan for you and your family so that everyone in the family knows what to do and where to go in the event of an earthquake or tsunami. Your plan should include the following:

1. Determine places in your home and work place that you can move to for safety during an earthquake.
2. Prepare an evacuation route in the event of a tsunami. Click here for “How to Survive a Tsunami” [.pdf]
3. Designate several places to find family members and friends if you are separated. Learn the emergency plans of your children’s day care or school.
4. Since it is often easier to make long distance calls than local calls following an earthquake, have a check-in person located out of state.
5. Gather and maintain an emergency home survival kit. Keep in mind that it may take time for emergency relief to reach coastal areas.
6. Place your emergency supplies, as well as important papers and cash, in a place which is easily accessible after an earthquake. Remember that in the case of a tsunami, you may be evacuating quickly and will not have much time to gather supplies.
7. Keep a pair of shoes near your bed. Broken glass after an earthquake may make it difficult to get around safely.

Seismic Safety in the Home Look around your home and do the following to minimize the risk of injury in an emergency:

1. Strap the hot water heater to the wall. Use heavy plumbers’ strap wrapped completely around the water heater, both top and bottom, and lag bolt it to the nearest studs. This reduces the risk of injury and preserves the tank as a source of clean water.
2. Bookcases, pictures, wardrobes, and other similar furniture should be attached to the wood studs in walls.
3. Any pictures or mirrors hanging over the bed should be moved.
4. Check kitchen cabinets to make sure they are adequately anchored to the wall

Seismic Retrofitting of Houses Existing houses can be retrofitted at low to moderate cost to significantly reduce the amount of damage sustained in an earthquake. Consult a qualified architect or engineer for advice, particularly if your house has big expanses of windows, large spans, an unusual configuration, or is built on piers.

During an Earthquake

If indoors: STAY INDOORS. Take cover under a desk or table, stand in door ways, halls, or against inside walls. Stay away from windows, mirrors, skylights, furniture, or objects that may fall over.

If outdoors: Move to an open area away from buildings, power lines, walls, and trees.

On the road: Stop in the safest place available away from buildings and other hazards, such as overhead power lines and stay in the vehicle.

Following an Earthquake

1. Implement your household evacuation plan and evacuate to the closest assembly area or other area outside the tsunami inundation zone.
2. Do not leave your assembly area until there has been an announcement that the emergency is over.
3. After the emergency is over, check predetermined reunion points if you are separated from your family during an earthquake.
4. After the emergency is over, check your house for gas or water leaks and downed electrical lines or shorts. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve and open windows. Turn off the electricity at the main fuse box ONLY if you see sparks or a fallen wire. After any repairs, have your utilities restored by local utility suppliers.
5. Check on your neighbors.
6. Turn on a radio or other media and listen for instructions from public safety agencies.
7. Limit your use of telephones.