Great California ShakeOut Draws Millions

At school, work and home, nearly 9 million Californians participated in today's quake drill.

Still under that desk? You can come out now!

Nearly 9 million people participated in the state’s biggest earthquake preparedness drill ever. Throughout the state, students and office workers attempted to “drop, cover and hold on” when The Great California Shakeout began at 10:20 a.m.

Earthquake Section: Maps, Preparedness, Myths

While many participated in pre-arranged programs at school and work, families and individuals can also take part at home, state seismic officials say. If you missed the event itself, you can still check the Shakeout Website for drills and online games to help prepare for the next big quake.

At home, families should talk about what might happen if an earthquake shakes the area where they live. Then use this link to play audio of the earthquake drill and instructions that others will be hearing as they take part in the drill.

If you want to continue practicing at home, try the following: 
  • Drop, Cover, and Hold On: Drop to the ground, take cover under a table or desk, and hold on to it as if a major earthquake were happening. Stay down for at least 60 seconds.
  • While still under the table, or wherever you are, look around and imagine what would happen in a major earthquake. What would fall on you or others? What would be damaged? What would life be like after? What will you do before the actual earthquake happens to reduce losses and quickly recover?
  • Optional: Practice what you will do after the shaking stops.
  • After your drill is complete, have discussions about what was learned and incorporate these lessons into your disaster plan.

Those who use wheelchairs need to know how to protect themselves as well. "What we tell people to do is put the brakes on so you make sure it doesn't move," said Dr. Kimberley Shoaf, acting director at the UCLA Center for Public Health & Disasters. "Then bend over and protect your head and neck with your hands."

The drill is important, said Fred Turner, Seismic Engineer with the California Seismic Safety Commission, because despite years of efforts, most Californians still are not prepared for a major quake. And scientists say that even though they can’t predict just when a big one will strike, it’s definitely on the way.
“We’ve made progress, but it’s incremental and it’s a slow process,” Turner said.  “Dramatic improvements are needed.”

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