How to Protect Yourself During an Earthquake

On October 18, “International ShakeOut Day,” millions will participate in Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills across the country and worldwide.

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of ShakeOut, which was first held in Southern California in 2008.

In 2017, more than 58 million worldwide participated. For the Oct. 18 event, 16.3 million in the US have registered to participate in earthquake preparedness drills (as of Oct. 10), of which nearly nine million are in California. Participants may also conduct or participate in drills on alternate dates.

Southern California has a little over four million registered participants.

Valley area campuses in the Los Angeles Unified School District that have registered include Bassett Elementary School in Lake Balboa; Granada Hills Charter High School; Justice Street Elementary School in Woodland Hills; Northridge Middle School; Pacoima Charter Elementary School; Parthenia Academy of Arts and Technology in North Hills; Roy Romer Middle School in North Hollywood; and the Vena Avenue Elementary and Gifted/HA Magnet in Arleta. 

At a minimum, ShakeOut is a one-minute earthquake drill where participants practice “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” and other aspects of their emergency plans.

 All areas of the United States can experience natural hazards, but whether or not they become disasters, or even catastrophes, is up to what we do now to prepare to survive and recover.

Ground shaking during an earthquake is seldom the cause of injury. Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths are caused by collapsing walls and roofs, flying glass and falling objects.

Experts say it is extremely important for a person to move as little as possible to reach the place of safety he or she has identified because most injuries occur when people try to move more than a short distance during the shaking.

When considering the continuing, devastating effects of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina and South Carolina; the recent, widely ravaging impacts of the Mendocino Complex Fire in California; or the long-lasting consequences of the 1994 M6.7 Northridge Earthquake in Los Angeles or 2001 M6.8 Nisqually Earthquake near Seattle, the public must also keep in mind the commitment to building stronger, more resilient communities.

“What we all do now will determine how quickly we spring back after the next big earthquake,” said Mark Benthien, Global ShakeOut Coordinator and Outreach Director at the Southern California Earthquake Center.

“Our dynamic planet demands science that helps us anticipate and prepare for the effects of damaging earthquakes, as we build safer communities and conduct exercises like ShakeOut to help reduce injury, death, and damage,” added U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Science Center Director Steve Hickman.

The destructive power an earthquake was on display in 1994 when the San Fernando Valley was rocked by magnitude 6.9 quake that had its epicenter in Reseda. It lasted 10-20 seconds (and was also followed by a pair of 6.0 aftershocks) but killed 57 people, injured 8,700, and caused property damage estimated between $13 and $50 billion. 

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The “Great Myth” About Standing in Doorways

An enduring earthquake image of California is a collapsed adobe home with the doorframe as the only standing part.

From this came our belief that a doorway is the safest place to be during an earthquake. We now understand that doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house, and do not provide protection from falling or flying objects.

You are safer under a table.