More than 9.4 million Californians reportedly practiced the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” drill in mid-October in preparation for a major earthquake.
The 2012 Great California ShakeOut involved record numbers of people from businesses, institutions and in their homes — many following specific drill broadcast instructions on more than 70 California radio and television stations — participating in the annual earthquake drill at 10:18 a.m. on Oct. 18, according to the event organizers
An additional 4.9 million people in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, British Columbia and Southern Italy participated in their own ShakeOut drills, making an Oct. 18 total of 14.3 million people, an increase from 9.5 million on ShakeOut day in 2011, organizers said.
“We carefully review registrations to maintain accurate counting of who is participating,” said Earthquake Country Alliance Executive Director Mark Benthien, who has coordinated the Great ShakeOut effort since its beginning in 2008, when 5.4 million registered to participate.
ShakeOut is organized by the Earthquake Country Alliance, a partnership of federal, state, local and community organizations. Members include California Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, California Earthquake Authority, American Red Cross, and the Southern California Earthquake Center, which administers the ECA.
“More than half the territory of the United States is subject to major earthquakes, and more and more people are recognizing the importance of being prepared to survive and recover when — not if — they happen,” Benthien said.
Related events were held in San Francisco’s Union Square on Oct. 17, the anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta “World Series” earthquake, at San Diego’s Amtrak Station and at Los Angeles’ Union Station.
At a press conference in L.A. just prior to the Oct. 18 drill, speakers stressed safety. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stated: “hope does not save lives — preparation does. Mother Nature does not give notice. We need to be one step ahead. Today’s drill is a vital practice for the real thing. ”
U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones urged people to “think of how you can make your house safer. Consider what you will do if the earthquake happens when you are commuting. I carry comfortable walking shoes and water in my car at all times.”
Chris Nance, chief communications officer for the California Earthquake Authority, cautioned that “only one in ten homes California have earthquake insurance,” and advised that “Being prepared involves knowing your earthquake risk.”
The www.ShakeOut.org website, managed by the Southern California Earthquake Center at the University of Southern California, is the global location for registering to participate in any of 16 Official ShakeOut Regions, as well as any other state or country. The site also includes planning and safety information.