While the October 16, 2012 earthquake centered in southern Maine was minor, it created a bit of a stir among those unaccustomed to dealing with tremors. And in many parts of the world, a major earthquake could cause unprecedented devastation.
In October 2011, the Great California ShakeOut involved over 8.6 million Californians through a broad-based outreach program, media partnerships, and public advocacy by hundreds of partners. And in 2012, the event has also been organized in many other states and countries. More than 14 million participants have registered for this year’s event.
A key aspect of the ShakeOut is the integration of comprehensive science-based earthquake research and the lessons learned from decades of social science research about why people get prepared. The result is a “teachable moment” on par with having an actual earthquake (often followed by increased interest in getting ready for earthquakes). ShakeOut creates the sense of urgency that is needed for people, organizations, and communities to get prepared, to practice what to do to be safe, and to learn what plans need to be improved.
Not just any drill will accomplish this; it needs to be big. It must inspire communities to come together. It must involve children at school and parents at work, prompting conversations at home. It must allow every organization, city, etc., to make it their own event.
The 2012 ShakeOut drill will be the largest preparedness event in U.S. history. Registered participants will receive information on how to plan their drill and how to create a dialogue with others about earthquake preparedness. All organizers ask is that participants register (so they can be counted and receive communications), and at the minimum practice “drop, cover, and hold on” at the specified time. It is only a five minute commitment for something that can save your life. It all begins with registering, which is free and open to everyone.
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