On October 15, at 10:15 am local time, over 20 million people around the world will drop to the ground, take cover, and hold on tight to something sturdy for at least 60 seconds. No, it’s not a mass hallucination, they’re just participating in the Great Shake Out.
The massive earthquake drill is meant to give people across the country and around the world a chance to learn what to do in an earthquake before they’re caught in one.
- Drop: Running or moving while the ground is shaking isn’t the best idea. The best course of action is to drop directly to the ground, not try to run to safety.
- Cover: Get under a sturdy table or desk. The surface above you will protect you from falling debris, one of the most dangerous aspects of an earthquake.
- Hold On: Hold on to a sturdy object to help you stay in one place while the ground is shaking, and don’t move until you are sure that the shaking has stopped.
In the United States, every single state and all inhabited territories are at some risk of an earthquake. The risk in California, where there are lots of earthquakes, is far higher than in North Dakota, which doesn’t have that much shaking. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea for everyone to be prepared.
While its impossible to predict exactly when or where an earthquake will strike, scientists are working on technology that will increase the amount of warning time people have to get to safety once an earthquake starts with the ShakeAlert program. Using a series of sensors placed along parts of the dangerous San Andreas fault, scientists have developed a text-based warning system that gives people those often precious seconds to prepare. Check out how it works in the video below.