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Fire drills are proven to save lives. In 1958 a school fire in Chicago claimed the lives of 92 children. Since then routine fire drills in every school across the country have taught children what to do when the alarm rings. When that happens, there is no time for instruction, debate or second-guessing. Every child in every school knows exactly what to do and where to go. As a result, there have been no school-fire-related fatalities in the United States for the past few decades.

Recently a tsunami drill was held in the Coos Bay-North Bend area. When the sirens sounded at the appointed time, hundreds of people made their way to high ground and to safe assembly points throughout the Bay Area. Organizers claimed it was a resounding success because, just like the fire drills, those who participated will know exactly what to do when the real thing occurs.

There is a reason (and a requirement) airlines go through those recitations before every take-off. You know the one, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is how a seatbelt works, and in the unlikely event of the loss of cabin pressure this mask will drop down…” Frequent flyers always act bored and almost perturbed that they must endure this one more time, but the truth is, those little briefings save lives. When there is an emergency landing, everyone already knows where the exits are, everyone knows how to open them and that there will be a big, inflatable slippery slide to safety. Passengers know to put their own mask on first, and then attend to the children and others around them. People know what to do ahead of time and lives are spared as a result.

If you feel slighted because you missed the tsunami drill in Coos Bay, take heart, the Great Oregon Shakeout is coming! The safety motto for earthquake preparedness is, “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” This provides “an annual opportunity to practice how to be safer during big earthquakes. The ShakeOut has also been organized to encourage you, your community, your school, or your organization to review and update emergency preparedness plans and supplies, and to secure your space in order to prevent damage and injuries.”

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Become a Member

It’s easy to register for the event although participation is encouraged even without registering. Check out their website at www.shakeout.org/oregon. You’ll find that churches, schools, businesses, individuals, tribes, government agencies and much more are invited to register. For those who register there are news updates, posters to print, and multi-media resources regarding the event. You’ll also find ideas to organize your neighborhood and a reminder to refresh your emergency supply kit.

The overall idea is to raise awareness and train people on what to do and do it quickly in the event of an emergency. It’s all about saving lives and minimizing injury. As always you may send your feedback to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.

(Dave Robinson is Bandon’s postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives.)

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