OKLAHOMA CITY - State Rep. Mike Shelton’s legislative district in east-central Oklahoma County recorded some of the “highest number of earthquakes in the United States” in the recent past.
Which is one reason why he intends to refile a public-school earthquake planning/training measure that died in the state House of Representatives three years ago, the Oklahoma City Democrat told Scott Mitchell, moderator of the weekly television program The Hot Seat.
“I understand the importance of being responsible citizens who ensure that our children are educated about what to do in the event of an earthquake while they’re in school,” Shelton said.
Because of Oklahoma’s weather, school officials routinely conduct tornado drills, he noted. Schools also schedule fire drills, hazardous waste drills to respond to potential chemical spills, and drills to train students what measures to take if an intruder enters the building.
“We should do the same with earthquake drills,” Shelton asserted.
Oklahoma has experienced more than 1,100 earthquakes of magnitude-3 or greater in the last 19 months.
With the frequency and intensity of earthquakes in Oklahoma continuing to grow, “It’s important to ensure that our children, teachers and administrators are safe,” Shelton said. “Our schools need to have a clear plan of action.”
His prior legislation decreed that at least two drills would be conducted each year “for the purpose of identifying a safe place to take cover and to teach participants how to react during an earthquake.”
A state law enacted in 2013 commands all 500+ public school districts in Oklahoma to conduct 10 mandatory drills every school year, including lockdown, fire, intruder and tornado drills, and two discretionary exercises that could be earthquake drills, hazardous-material drills or bus evacuation drills. The statute requires each school district to provide documentary proof of those events to the School Security Institute of the Oklahoma Department of Homeland Security.
The director of the Oklahoma Department of Homeland Security reported recently that more than 130 schools in Oklahoma conducted at least one earthquake preparedness drill last year. However, Oklahoma has 1,807 school sites, records reflect. That means that only 7.5 percent of all schools in Oklahoma made any attempt to teach their students what to do in the event of an earthquake, Shelton maintains.