Prepared and aware

Prepared and aware

Millions take part in Great California ShakeOut Friday

By Tina Rescigno 10/22/2013

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Drop, cover and hold on. These three simple but profoundly important instructions were on the minds of millions of people last week in the latest Great California ShakeOut, a yearly event that’s gone global in efforts to get people prepared for the “Big One.”

Scientists believe the Los Angeles region could be hit by a magnitude 7.1 quake or larger at any time, making disaster preparedness an especially paramount priority in this region.

The timing of this year’s drill coincides with recent investigative reports by the Los Angeles Times which found that as many as 1,000 concrete buildings in Los Angeles County could topple in the event of a major quake.

The idea of the Great ShakeOut program is to keep people “aware of the hazards” of earthquakes, said Kate Hutton of the US Geological Survey, one of the sponsors of the Great ShakeOut. 

“We are one of the founders of the program, along with USGS,” Caltech spokeswoman Deborah Williams-Hedges told the Weekly.

According to Williams-Hedges, Caltech works closely with USGS and is home to a world-renowned seismological department and earthquake center. 
The purpose of the annual exercise, Williams-Hedges also stressed, is to “get the people prepared and aware” of earthquakes.

To that end, the quake preparedness event has grown to global proportions, with exercises conducted around the country, as well as in Japan, Italy, Guam and Canada, according to a story appearing in Huffington Post. 

“Everyone everywhere should know how to protect themselves during an earthquake,” lead organizer Mark Benthien told Huffington Post. 
The organization’s main drill, called “Drop, Cover, and Hold On,” emphasizes the need for quick action to ensure safety. The three main themes of safety from earthquake and other natural disasters, according to  HYPERLINK "http://www.earthquakecountry.org" earthquakecountry.org, are “Prepare, Protect, and Recover.” 

Participants in last Friday’s statewide event were the California Office of Emergency Services, the California Earthquake Authority, the American Red Cross, the state Department of Education and State Farm Insurance Co. An estimated 9 million people around California took part in the emergency drills last week, according to the Times.

To prepare for an earthquake, experts say people should identify any hazards in the building they are in, create disaster plans and supply kits, and be aware of the weaknesses of the structure.

At Caltech, where students conducted drills Friday, Great California ShakeOut organizers “work with the students and do on-campus exercises to inform them about earthquake safety and preparedness,” Williams-Hedges said.

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