Damage to the roadbed from the 2018 Anchorage earthquake at the interchange of the George Parks Highway and the Glenn Highway. Courtesy Alaska DOT&PF.
Road trips and vacations are supposed to be fun and relaxing experiences. But – especially when traveling in Alaska – it’s a good idea to be prepared as well, says Lisa Miller with the American Red Cross of Alaska. Alaska’s tectonic activity makes it a hotspot for earthquakes. The chances of experiencing an earthquake are low, but emergency preparedness can help you relax and enjoy the journey without a worry.
“You want to have fun. You’re out there to have an adventure, but it’s always smart to talk about safety and preparedness and plan out what to do in emergency situations,” Miller says.
Here are some best-practice recommendations that Miller shared with Alaska magazine in 2018 and are reprinted here with permission.
Have an emergency kit or grab bag with items like a hand-crank radio, cash, water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, and a change of clothes. Even when going for a short drive, an unexpected accident or natural disaster could keep you on the road longer than planned.
If an earthquake occurs while you’re driving, pull over to a clear location away from powerlines and trees, and off bridges or overpasses. Stay in the car and keep the seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops.
If an earthquake occurs while walking outside, move immediately to the clearest spot possible away from trees, powerlines, buildings, and streetlights; stop; hold until the shaking stops. Be practical about safe spaces, not a perfectionist, because Miller says most injuries that occur during earthquakes happen when people are moving around looking for the ideal safe spot.
If an earthquake lasts 20 seconds or longer and you’re near the coast, start heading for high ground as soon as the shaking stops, because a significant earthquake could trigger a tsunami. Once safely at high ground, use a radio or other device to listen for updates.
Miller recommends talking with family members or travel mates about best practices, so that in the event a natural disaster occurs, everyone knows what action to take and panic is less likely.