Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Earthquake drill 420,000 to roll in Great British Columbia ShakeOut

Get ready to hit the deck in 10 a.m. earthquake drill 420,000 to roll in Great British Columbia ShakeOut

More than 420,000 British Columbians, 81,000 of them Victorians, will dive under desks today in what organizers say is Canada's biggest earthquake drill.

The first Great British Columbia ShakeOut happens at 10 a.m. with a two-minute emergency drill designed to simulate precautions to be followed in an earthquake.

"Drop! Cover! and Hold On!" is the slogan.

It means that, when an earthquake occurs, you should drop to the floor, find cover under furniture to protect yourself from falling objects and stay put by holding on to the furniture until the shaking stops.

The drill has been organized by the B.C. Earthquake Alliance, a co-operative of provincial, federal and local governments and business.

Heather Lyle, director of integrated public safety with Emergency Management B.C. and co-chairwoman of the Alliance, said public schools have been the most enthusiastic. More than 224,000 students and teachers in 786 B.C. schools are expected to take part.

Twenty-nine post-secondary institutions, including the University of Victoria, Camosun College and the Canadian College of Performing Arts, in Oak Bay, have also signed up, adding 72,761 participants.

Radio stations around B.C. will broadcast drill instructions at 10 a.m.

Today was chosen because it is the 311th anniversary of the massive Cascadia earthquake in 1700, which caused damage from Vancouver Island to California.

The drill is expected to become an annual event and the date will likely change.

The last major quake to hit the Island was on June 23, 1946. It measured 7.3 on the Richter scale.

Lyle said it's important to build awareness that coastal B.C. and Vancouver Island is earthquake territory. "So, are we as ready as we could be? No. Could we do more? Yes. But I think it is getting better and we are taking this far more seriously than we were just a few years ago."

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