9.4 Million Drop, Cover & Hold On!

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Record number practice for next earthquake in The Great California ShakeOut -- Speakers Stress Public Transportation Safety

Hope does not save lives – preparation does.

The 2012 Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill exceeded all expectations. More than 9.4 million Californians – many following specific drill broadcast instructions on more than 70 California radio and television stations – simultaneously practiced the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” drill recommended by experts as essential for avoiding injury and even death in the event of a major earthquake.

California participants included businesspersons, government officials, emergency responders, people in their homes, and students, teachers and administrators in schools and colleges in participating ShakeOut areas.

In addition, 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 October 18th total of 14.3 million people, an increase from 9.5 million on ShakeOut day in 2011.

“We carefully review registrations to maintain accurate counting of who is participating,” said Earthquake Country Alliance (ECA) Executive Director Mark Benthien, who has coordinated the Great ShakeOut effort since its beginning in Southern California in 2008, when 5.4 million registered to participate.

“In five years we’ve seen the number of participants worldwide more than triple,” said Benthien. He added that “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.”

With a focus in California on public transportation safety, special media events were held in San Francisco’s Union Square on 10/17 (anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta “World Series” earthquake), at San Diego’s Amtrak Station, and at Los Angeles’ Union Station. In Los Angeles, commuters and international guests visited a preparedness fair, experienced earthquake shaking on board the “Big Shaker” earthquake simulator, and witnessed a train evacuation along with assembled federal, state and local officials.

At a press conference just prior to the worldwide Drop, Cover, Hold On drill at 10:18 am, speakers stressed transportation safety. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa reminded that “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.”

As part of the event’s earthquake transportation safety theme, Richard Katz, Board Member, Director on Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors and Board Chairman of Metrolink pointed out that if you are on a subway when the shaking starts, “you are in the safest place to be.” He cited strong building design, and the fact that shaking is much stronger on the surface than underground. He also urged everyone to “create a family disaster plan, build an emergency supply kit for your homes and vehicles, and remember to practice your plan. The more prepared we are,” he added, “the faster we will be able to rebuild our communities and our resources.”

Dr. Lucy Jones, Science Advisor for Risk Reduction, USGS, 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.”

Nancy Ward, Regional Administrator, FEMA Region IX, asked people to “help us help you. The government can’t provide all the resources. The individual and the community are at the core of Drop, Cover, Hold On.” She invited people to visit the many websites available with advice for preparing for earthquakes and other disasters. Links to many can be found at http://www.ShakeOut.org.

Mark Ghilarducci, Secretary, California Emergency Management Agency pointed out that “while you can’t control the outcome of an earthquake, you can control what you do.” He noted that you can find real peace of mind in being prepared, and observed that “ShakeOut isn’t about being scared – it’s about being prepared.”

Chris Nance, Chief Communications Officer for the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), cautioned that “only one in ten homes California have earthquake insurance,” and advised that “Being prepared involves knowing your earthquake risk.” He invited people to download and read “7 Steps to Earthquake Safety” at http://www.EarthquakeAuthority.com, and urged all Californians to consider earthquake insurance to protect their home and belongings.

Paul Schulz, Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross Los Angeles Region summed up the activities at Union Station.: “The message is simple. Drop, Cover, Hold On, and prepare to survive and recover quickly.

Other media events were held at San Diego’s Amtrak Station, Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, San Bernardino County Museum, other museums, schools and locations statewide. Many businesses throughout the state also participated with the four largest being Target, Walmart, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

The http://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 for schools, households, businesses, organizations and government agencies so they can prepare for serious earthquakes, get through them safely, and be able to have a survivable post-quake existence when essential services are likely to be disrupted for days or weeks.

In addition to ShakeOut drills happening today, earlier this year the Central United States, Utah, New Zealand, and Japan also coordinated successful drills. Total participation in 2012 has now topped 19 million people worldwide, much higher than organizers anticipated.

ShakeOut is organized by the Earthquake Country Alliance (ECA), a statewide partnership of federal, state, local and community organizations with regional alliances in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Redwood Coast. Organizational 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.

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D'Anne Ousley
California Earthquake Authority
(916) 325-3845
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Lance Webster
Earthquake Country Alliance
(213) 321-2194
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