The 2022 Humboldt County Fair opens Thursday. The most unusual route is not on the Midway. The Redwood Coast Tsunami Task Force (RCTWG) and the California Office of Emergency Services (OES) have partnered to bring the state’s Shake trailer to the fair. From Thursday, August 18 through Sunday, August 21, the trailer will be ready to rock you from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Dubbed the “Quake Cottage,” the trailer simulates what you might feel during a moderate to strong earthquake in California. The simulator is mounted on a trailer and can accommodate four people at a time. Each simulated earthquake lasts up to three minutes. The interior is furnished to resemble a small living room or den and gives you a sure glimpse of what a real earthquake might look like.

The Humboldt County Fair has provided the RCTWG with a venue for earthquake and tsunami preparedness exhibits since 1999. We skipped the last two years due to COVID restrictions and this year we are trying something different. The Humboldt County Fair Association was no longer able to grant us the space at Hindley Hall where we had exhibits in the past. But this year, the State Office of Emergency Services is bringing us something that will be fun, informative, and get you talking about how to live safe from earthquakes and tsunamis.

The shake trailer is part of California’s MyShake campaign. MyShake is the state’s earthquake early warning system. Unveiled in October 2017, MyShake detects earthquakes in the first seconds after a fault begins to rupture. Fast algorithms are able to estimate the location and size of the earthquake in a few extra seconds and relay that information via cellphones to people in the area who are likely to feel noticeable shaking. Many people are likely to have a few seconds before the strongest seismic signals arrive, enough time to drop, cover and hang on. Just as important are the few moments he gives you to mentally prepare for the jolt.

Many of us on the North Shore were lucky enough to experience MyShake on December 20 of last year when a 6.2 earthquake shook the Mendocino Triple Junction area near Petrolia. I was in the kitchen when my phone started buzzing and a voice said EARTHQUAKE, EARTHQUAKE, LEAVE, COVER AND HOLD. And a few seconds later, the ground did indeed begin to shake. That heads-up of a few seconds really made a difference for me. I could prop myself up on the floor next to the cabinet (no table nearby, so the best thing to do is stand next to something that will deflect falling objects).

The OES Shake Trailer is meant to give you a taste of the earthquake and get you thinking about what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones before the next earthquake hits. The MyShake app is only part of the awareness message. You don’t need to come to the salon to learn about MyShake. It comes pre-installed on Android phones and can be downloaded for free from your iPhone’s app store. One caveat – you need to enable location services for this to work. Alerts are only sent to people who are likely to experience noticeable tremors and the system needs to know where you are to do so.

In addition to the simulator, the RCTWG will also have an earthquake/tsunami information booth with much of the information we used to have in the Hindley Hall exhibit. You’ll be able to sign up for Humboldt Alert, the county’s notification system to let you know if a tsunami, flood, or wildfire is headed your way and if you should evacuate. You can also check out the county’s tsunami-prone areas, get tips for making your home and workplace more earthquake-resistant, and pick up a Living on Shaky Ground earthquake preparedness magazine. And as always, our knowledgeable volunteers will be on hand to answer your questions.

If you cannot attend the fair this year, please visit our virtual fair. We won’t be able to shake you up, but you can view many of our Hindley Hall exhibits at I will be there to welcome you (virtually). A single click will take you to an interactive display of Humboldt County’s current tsunami hazard maps and another click to real-time earthquake information. You can relax in our Virtual Tsunami Theater and bring your kids to Kid’s Corner and listen to the heartwarming story of Kamome, the little boat that connected kids to Japan and Crescent City. We even have a link to Humboldt’s own tsunami boat, the Tai Shou Maru, which spent more than three years adrift in the ocean after the 2011 tsunami before running aground in Dry Lagoon.

I hope you will do more than just browse. Stop #4 offers important prep trips, including easy ways to sign up for Emergency Notification, MyShake Alert System, ShakeOut, and Humboldt’s Emergency Notification System. Download brochures and other materials to take home at stop #9. You can even take a trip down memory lane with our archive of recent RCTWG exhibits at #10.

The virtual is not quite the same. I would always prefer to talk to you all in person and experience the wonderful face-to-face exchanges. But I think you’ll still find our virtual fair worth spending some time visiting. And you can always ask me questions – it might take a little longer to get your virtual answer.

The simulator will only be at the show for the first four days, so please plan your visit accordingly. Kudos to Andi Evans, Amanda Admire and Todd Becker for all the heavy lifting in coordinating this year’s exhibition.

Of course, our virtual fair is open all year round — so don’t hesitate to visit us.

Lori Dengler is professor emeritus of geology at Cal Poly Humboldt, specializing in tsunami and earthquake risk. Do you have questions or comments about this topic, or would you like a free copy of the Living on Shaky Ground readiness magazine? Leave a message at 707-826-6019 or email [email protected]