EDITORIAL: Glitches are excusable, unsafe advising is not

Feb. 12, 2013 Editorial Cartoon

Herald Staff

THE ISSUE: The false alarm earthquake texts last week, although an accident, incorrectly instructed students to go outside to seek shelter from effects of the earthquake.

OUR STANCE: A glitch in the system is forgivable, but asking students to leave the shelter of the indoors is unsafe.

According to ready.gov, for protection from an earthquake — meaning specifically protection from falling objects — people should seek shelter “under a sturdy table or against an inside wall.” Furthermore, if “there isn’t a table or desk near you…crouch in an inside corner of a building.” In other words, the recommended safety precautions from the government in the event of an earthquake are indoors.

The first text message students received last Thursday advised them to “exit buildings and stay at a safe distance.” Notice the message does not specify from what students should maintain a safe distance.

Drawing again from ready.gov, “Do not exit a building during the shaking. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.”

The fact that WKU’s system suffered a glitch that caused some alarm among students and faculty that there was an earthquake is an unfortunate accident that could not have been foreseen. It is good that WKU was able to quickly send a message correcting the first one. It is comforting to know that someone caught the mistake fast enough to ease any panic.

However, this does not excuse that the university apparently has a message to send to students in the event of a real earthquake that instructs them to do exactly what they should not do during an earthquake.

Glitch aside, it would be wise for someone to rewrite the text message to advise students on a safer plan of action should an earthquake strike. Even though many people didn’t suspect an earthquake last Thursday, numerous students and faculty began evacuating their buildings and standing around outside, waiting for “instruction from authorities,” as the message said.

Let’s hope if the seismic waves start shaking campus that said authorities will not be needed because everyone will be safely taking cover indoors, as instructed by WKU via text.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 12 member editorial board.