By Charly SHELTON
Earthquakes cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty more than a minute or so ahead of the shaking. Even those predictions are based on tremors that have begun far off. There is no such thing as “earthquake weather” and the belief that quakes only strike in the early hours of the morning is equally false. They can strike at any moment from any fault in the area, of which there are a total of 51. For this and many other reasons, living in California means its citizens must always be prepared.
“Everyone, everywhere, should know how to protect themselves in an earthquake. Even if earthquakes are rare where you live, they may happen where you or your family travel,” said Mark Benthien, executive director of the Earthquake Country Alliance, one of the major partners of the ShakeOut.
This morning, Thursday, there will be an earthquake at 10:17 a.m. Not really – just a simulated one. That is the scenario that will be used in the worldwide earthquake drill known as the ShakeOut. States from around the country and countries around the globe will take part in the event, designed to simulate a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. By comparison, the 2010 Haiti earthquake was a magnitude 7.0 and the 1994 Northridge quake was a magnitude 6.7. The “earthquake” portion of the Universal Studios Tram Tour simulates a magnitude 8.3 quake at optimal performance.
For the Great California ShakeOut today, 3.2 million citizens – in schools, churches, colleges, government buildings, non-profit organizations, neighborhood groups and private individuals and families, among many others – are registered to take part in the drill. At 10:17 a.m., these registered volunteers will drop, cover and hold on as they imagine the shaking of a quake. After holding under cover for about 60 seconds, they will emerge and evacuate their structures, contact family members to assure their safety and plan next steps as if it were a real emergency situation.
In addition to the drills conducted in homes and offices, first responders will be conducting drills of their own.
“[Fire departments] are going to be driving their earthquake routes, conducting windshield surveys,” said Brandy Villanueva, Emergency Services coordinator for the Glendale Fire Dept. “There is a predesignated route for each of our fire companies that they drive immediately following an earthquake to assess damage and areas of impact … and then they start to prioritize where their resources will be focused.”
Villanueva said that there will also be selected evacuation drills led by firefighting personnel, including Montrose Library for the Crescenta Valley. Their evacuation drill will be held at 9 a.m.
More information on the Great California ShakeOut can be found at the website shakeout.org/california.