Extension educates Oregonians to prepare for Cascadia Earthquake

A still from the virtual reality simulation of the Cascadia Earthquake.

Scientists predict there is about a 37 percent chance that an earthquake of at least 8.0 magnitude will strike off the Pacific Northwest coast in the next 50 years. When it occurs, the historic temblor will cause widespread devastation in Oregon.

In an effort to educate Oregonians to prepare for the Cascadia Earthquake, resulting tsunami and other geohazards, the Oregon State University Extension Service created a free online course that consists of four modules.

  • Module 1 shows the evidence of this disaster, also known as the also as the Cascadia Subduction Zone Event (CSZ).
  • Module 2 focuses on the experience of the shaking of five to seven minutes and the immediate steps you should take.
  • Module 3 explores the altered life after the CSZ and provides tools to be prepared.
  • Module 4 contains additional education for Extension professionals, neighborhood leaders, and emergency agency or organization employees or volunteers who can assist before and after the disaster.

Each module contains multiple narrated sessions and many additional resources allowing the participant to delve as deep into the focus of that module as they would like. Module 2 also includes a virtual reality simulation of the earthquake.

As a result of viewing the first three modules, a survey of those who piloted the course shows that 90% of respondents gained knowledge that helps them understand the probability and effects of the CSZ, and 95% said they gained knowledge “that helps me prepare for the earthquake happens and “helped me advance my disaster preparations.” Every respondent said they plan to recommend the course to others.

An additional survey of Extension professionals who completed all four modules was implemented, and statistically significant gains were recorded in all areas including knowledge about the event, feeling prepared to provide the information to Extension audiences about the earthquake, and the importance of preparing for the earthquake as well as having taken steps to prepare themselves and family.

In the late spring of 2020, Extension launched a Cascadia Earthquake Preparedness page on its website that curates and facilitates resources to help Pacific Northwest residents prepare for the historic quake.

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