Annual Great California ShakeOut 10:20 a.m. Oct. 20 at SMC

As part of a statewide effort to bolster disaster-preparedness, Santa Monica College will be participating in the annual Great California ShakeOut. During this drill, participating groups are educated and informed about earthquake preparation and protection maneuvers.

This year, Santa Monica College plans to offer its full cooperation in the fourth annual Great California ShakeOut, which is scheduled to commence at 10:20 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20.

According to the event website, more than 7.9 million Californians participated in the ShakeOut last year.

This year’s turn-out is expected to be even greater, and with more than 8 million already registered, this ShakeOut is likely to be the largest earthquake drill to in US history.

The ShakeOut illustrates the scenario of a 7.9 magnitude earthquake. No signal will be given to simulate the earthquake, but at exactly 10:20 a.m., all are expected to drop to the ground, take cover, and hold on until the shaking stops. Should they find themselves outside, the participants are instructed to stay clear of walls and potential falling objects.

Vice President of Student Services Michael Tuitasi confirmed that a few campus structures will be evacuated during the drill, among them are art, counseling and PE buildings.

“The Emergency Preparedness Committee and our campus Police Department have set up trainings and an informational website to encourage students to get a kit, make a plan, and be informed,” Tuitasi said. “In addition, we are working with the local Red Cross and Santa Monica’s Office of Emergency Management to provide ongoing information sessions.”

Given California’s seismic history, like the Northridge quake of 1994 and the San Francisco quake in 1906, researchers and safety professionals do their best to prepare Californians for another disaster.

SMC possesses earthquake boxes with axes, flashlights, goggles, and other tools to aid in post-earthquake recovery, explained Sgt. Romano of Campus Police.

He said that there are also emergency kits with provisions that would last 2,500 people about three days, and five emergency chairs around the satellite campuses for moving the disabled and injured.

According to research by National Geographic, 80 percent of all the planet’s earthquakes occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean, along the so-called “Ring of Fire.”

This earthquake-prone area includes the state of California and its San Andreas Fault. The fault has not ruptured in over 300 years, but geologists say it could happen at any time.

William Selby, a professor of earth science and geography at SMC, believes it important for California residents to participate in the earthquake drill. “Our fire and police departments are well-trained for these events, but most people are not prepared, and will therefore suffer after a quake.”

The Earthquake Country Alliance, the organizer of California’s annual earthquake drill, states that the safest action to take during a quake is the “drop, cover and hold on” method.

According to Selby, students should be prepared to act during an earthquake by getting under the nearest desk or table until the shaking stops - this method’s efficacy has been proven by researchers and emergency managers.

“They should also have water and food to last about one week, and an emergency kit that includes a flashlight, first aid kit and other necessities for survival after the quake,” said Selby. “Your local Red Cross is a good source to consult for an emergency-preparedness kit.”

Visit ShakeOut drill proceedures for more information.