Millions Plan to Drop and Cover

Statewide earthquake drill is held annually to help prepare Californians for the next big temblor

In a year marked by devastating earthquakes around the world, California has thus far escaped largely unscathed. But everyone knows the next “Big One” is coming.

Japan’s magnitude 8.9 quake in March and Virginia’s 5.9 temblor in August serve as fresh reminders, and at 10:20 a.m. today, close to 10 million Californians are expected to participate in the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history.

Special Section: Earthquake Info, Maps, Resources

For the fourth year, people, businesses and organizations statewide will take part in the Great California ShakeOut to help build awareness for the next big earthquake, according to the website.

The event was started in 2008, coordinated by the Earthquake Country Alliance. 

That year about  5.5 million Californians participated in what was then called the Great Southern California ShakeOut.

The event became a statewide venture in 2009 with 6.9 million registered participants. Participation jumped by another million in 2010.

This year, the event has grown further with Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and Guam holding their own ShakeOut drills on the same day and time as California.

The degree to which registrants simulate the “Big One” varies. Participation can be as simple as a one-minute drill that follows minimum earthquake guidelines to drop, cover and hold on.

However, some businesses, schools or organizations may expand the drill to a day-long event.

A recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the next  "Big One" will greatly affect businesses.

“The most intense shaking from a magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the southern San Andreas Fault could affect 434,000 businesses, more than 4.5 million employees of those businesses, with combined annual payrolls of $206.5 billion,” according to the bureau’s Regional Commissioner Richard J. Holden.

The point of the ShakeOut is for people to have a plan.

Kondo likened preparation for an earthquake to an athlete training for the big game.

“You won’t have to concentrate, you’ll just know what to do,” he said.

Anyone in California, regardless of residency, can participate in the drill. People have the option of registering at as an individual, group, business or organization.

If participation isn’t enough, people can volunteer to help coordinate the event by joining the Earthquake Country Alliance. Participation is free.

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