How safe are Campbell River children in an earthquake?
School officials are asking themselves this question after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake was felt in Campbell River on Fri. Sept. 9.
“We had an event. We’re looking at what we did, and we’re trying to get lessons learned so we can do better when the next event occurs,” said Will Dirksen, health and safety officer for school district 72.
Dirksen suggests having hard hats close by for students in wheel chairs because they can’t duck and cover, purchasing some portable toilets, and lightening emergency kits by moving bottled water to different locations.
Dirksen also pointed out that the earthquake in September was on a sunny day but the weather may be different next time, so he wants to practice building emergency shelters.
“One of my concerns is if we have an earthquake and it’s inclement weather and so we have to quickly try to get a shelter in place,” said Dirksen.
The school district already has tarps, but Dirksen wants to practice setting up shelters, and take photographs so that there’s a model for others to follow if necessary.
Meanwhile, school district 72 secretary/treasurer Peter Neale said the district needs a number of structural seismic upgrades on its schools.
“Currently we have eight schools that are on our seismic plan that need to be upgraded to prepare for a seismic event,” said Neale. “That represents $18 million in seismic upgrades that we’ve identified as a requirement for our schools.”
According to Neale, $5.7 million of the upgrades needed are at Phoenix School.
Neale said funding for seismic upgrades is one of the advocacy points the district continues to talk to the Ministry of Education about; the Ministry provided funding for a “whole slew” of upgrades a few years ago, but hasn’t provided any recently.
The district also identified a need for non-structural upgrades, like replacing ceiling tiles and shelving, worth about $1 million. Since 2009, the district has spent about $200,000 on these upgrades.
Meanwhile, Campbell River schools will be taking part in the Great British Columbia ShakeOut, which happens at 10:20 a.m. on Oct. 20.
Students will duck, cover, and hold in th e mass earthquake drill to increase earthquake awareness and preparedness.