The Great California ShakeOut Earthquake Drill

Children at school practicing the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” earthquake strategy.

This Thursday, Riverside will host what’s being billed as “the largest earthquake drill” in California history.

Every government office, business, school and family will participate. When was the last time you did an earthquake drill? It’s probably time for a refresher course, don’t you think?

The annual “Great California ShakeOut” will be held this Thursday at 10:20 a.m., and participants will “drop, cover and hold on” for several minutes to simulate their response to an actual, massive earthquake.

Last year 7.9 million people joined in the ShakeOut, but they have surpassed that number this year, with 8.2 million Californians registered to participate.

“This is now officially the largest earthquake preparedness drill ever,” said Kate Long, deputy director of the California Emergency Management Agency’s Earthquake & Tsunami Program. “That’s a lot of people empowering themselves to prepare now so they can survive and recover when an earthquake strikes.”

From non-profits to scout troops, Riverside County is represented well in the exercise. All county government offices will take part, as well as offices in over a dozen municipalities, plus the entire U.C. Riverside campus, and almost every public elementary, middle and high school in the county.

In the private sector, over 40 businesses, seven boy and girl scout troops, nine retirement communities, 15 non-profits and over 250 individuals and families countywide have signed up to participate.

This 4th annual ShakeOut is intended to simulate the impact of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake, originating from the southernmost area of the San Andreas Fault. The scenario would imitate a tectonic shift that would produce waves of earth movement for hundreds of miles and last over four minutes.

David Oglesby, associate professor of geophysics at the UCR Department of Earth Sciences, reminds us that an earthquake of that size could devastate much of Southern California. “Because we live in earthquake country, everyone needs to know what to do when the ground starts shaking,” he explained.

The rules have changed from a decade or generation ago, where children were told to get into doorways or run outside when an earthquake struck. “These are both dangerous actions,” said Oglesby. He recommends instead to “drop, cover and hold on” until the quake stops, and then carefully find a way outside to a safe location, away from any buildings and the risk of being hit from falling debris.

Water and gas leaks are two of the biggest problems after an earthquake for residents and workers. Click here for FEMA’s advice on what to do right after an earthquake, including water safety. And don’t forget to make or buy an emergency kit!

Maybe this will convince you: if the ShakeOut’s simulation was real, some 2,000 people would die, tens of thousands would be injured, and more than $200 billion in damage would result from the catastrophe, which would have 50 times the intensity of the Jan. 17, 1994, Northridge earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Orange County business owners: call us now to schedule an appointment to create a strategic plan so when disaster strikes you will be back in business before you know it.

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