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Statewide earthquake drill set for 10:18 a.m.

Californians are encouraged to simulate quake response

A rendering of a roadside sign reading, “The Big One ahead.” Photo by Andy Dean Photography

Update: This story originally ran in 2017. It has been updated to reflect this year’s statewide drill.

Today, October 18, will mark the tenth Great California Shakeout, an annual earthquake drill covering an area populate by 10.2 million Californians this year, set to begin at 10:18 a.m., one day after the anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

When the time comes, the Shakeout website (operated by the Southern California Earthquake Center) says drill participants should react as they would during an actual earthquake, namely:

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). Practice now so you will immediately protect yourself during earthquakes. [...]

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?

Proper procedure is to lie facedown with head covered, and SCEC advises to “avoid exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances, and kitchen cabinets” but also not to try to move more than seven feet from the present spot while hunkering down.

Those outdoors should “avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles,” and also use the drop and cover method even if nothing is overhead, since a violent earthquake can fling objects at pedestrians from unexpected directions.

Last year BART participated in the drill and tested its quake procedures at the appointed time. However, the transit agency has not announced a similar test this year.

The San Francisco-based used car startup Instamotor conducted a survey of 2,000 Californians and found that 53 percent feel they are not adequately prepared for a large scale disaster.

A similar UCLA survey of 2,081 Californians found that while 80 percent of households have a first aid kit on hand, “fewer than 50% have dust masks, tools to rescue trapped people, or an extra set of emergency supplies in the car,” only 40 percent have the recommended 72 hours worth of water, and only 40 percent have made a household disaster plan.

Partially collapsed houses in 1906.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives