Hundreds of San Francisco elementary school students strengthened their earthquake preparedness skills Wednesday morning during The Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill on the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake.
Several city officials joined the school children at Rosa Parks Elementary School, located 1501 O'Farrell St., for the safety drill.
During the drill, children practiced going underneath their desks during a potential earthquake, covering their heads and holding on. Then, when they were given the all-clear sign by their teachers, they safely lined-up and headed outside.
The young students were also encouraged to prepare safety kits, equipped with batteries, flashlights, water and first aid kits.
Mayor London Breed, a graduate of Rosa Parks Elementary School, said to the students, "When I was your age, I was here and this is where I first learned about what to do if there was an earthquake, or any other event.
"We know that it's not a matter of if an earthquake is going to happen in San Francisco, it's a matter of when. And so, you all are the ambassadors to make sure that your families know what to do," she said.
When the 1989 Loma Prieta 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck the Bay Area, it killed more than 60 people and caused widespread damage throughout the region, totaling more than $5 billion in damages.
A 2014 prediction by the U.S. Geological Survey reported a 72 percent chance of a 6.7-magnitude earthquake striking the Bay Area by 2043.
"We've come a long way in terms of the work, the infrastructure. We have not only pushed forward policies that deal with soft story buildings; we know what happened in the Marina and so many of those buildings fell and we are implementing changes," Breed said. "We are doing so many amazing things, so when the next earthquake hits, we're going to be better off than we were in 1989."
"We want to make sure the students know what to do, but then we also want to make sure that the students take the message home. It's important to known that you drop, you cover and you hold-on at home, but then it's also about being prepared at home," said San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Vincent Matthews. "Our students are ambassadors for knowing exactly what to do if an earthquake hits."
Also on the Loma Prieta 30th anniversary, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the launch of the nation's first statewide Earthquake Early Warning System.
The new system uses ground motion sensors throughout the state to detect quakes before they're felt on the surface. The system then notifies Californians via a mobile app in advance, so they can be ready to drop, cover and hold on.
"Nothing can replace families having a plan for earthquakes and other emergencies," Newsom said in a statement. "And we know the big one might be around the corner. I encourage every Californian to download this app to ensure your family is ready."
To download the Earthquake Early Warning System app, Californians can visit https://myshake.berkeley.edu/.