Living in California, there are constant reminders about the threat of earthquakes. On average, Southern California has about 10,000 earthquakes each year. The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is at the forefront of public safety, and remains steadfast in coordinating with state, federal and local partners on earthquake preparedness, doing so in a variety of innovative and collaborative ways.
In a year of uncertainties and challenges, the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills on October 21, 2021 provide the opportunity to increase individual and community resilience. ShakeOut serves as an annual reminder about the importance of practicing earthquake preparedness, even as the world’s ongoing battle with the COVID-19 pandemic continues and Californians recover from numerous catastrophic wildfires.
Most participate in ShakeOut by registering to practice “Drop, Cover, and Hold On,” though specific activities have gradually expanded both in the United States and globally. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants are adapting their ShakeOut drills through video-conferencing, choosing staggered or alternative dates, and following local health and safety guidelines (see ShakeOut.org/covid19).
There is still time to join this year’s ShakeOut, which occurs annually on the third Thursday of October. Register now at ShakeOut.org. At least 24 million people around the world are expected to take action on this day, including 14 million people from the United States and its territories.
ShakeOut organizers recommend people follow the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety, which starts with Step 1: Secure Your Space. Most earthquake injuries are entirely preventable and are caused by furniture and other objects that move or break when shaking occurs, resulting in trips, bruises, cuts, and more. Start now: move heavy objects down to lower shelves, relocate tall furniture away from entrances and exits, and secure cabinets with latches.
Recommended earthquake safety actions for a variety of special situations (in a theater, in a car, etc.) and for people with disabilities are described at EarthquakeCountry.org/step5.
In addition to ShakeOut, there are numerous other safety practices that Californians have at their disposal on a daily basis. Earthquake Warning California is California’s earthquake warning system, which uses the latest technology, including smartphone applications and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), to provide individuals with an earthquake warning as soon as shaking is detected by ground motion monitoring.
As part of Earthquake Warning California, the MyShake app is a free earthquake warning tool available in the Apple App store and Google Play to provide individuals a few precious seconds to take life-saving actions such as to drop, cover, and hold on before shaking occurs. The MyShake app, which has more than 1 million downloads since it was publicly launched in 2019, sends a warning to smartphone users in the nearby area that have installed the app as soon as seismic waves are detected and the data is processed.
Last summer, Cal OES also announced a partnership with Google that includes Earthquake Early Warning technology as a feature included in millions of new Android phones and via software updates in existing Android phones used in California.
Cal OES, in coordination with state, federal and local partners, will recognize ShakeOut on October 21, 2021 with an outreach event and subsequent campus-wide earthquake drill at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles.