County poised to ‘drop and cover’

The nation’s largest emergency preparedness drill will take place at 10:20 a.m. today, when an estimated 40,000 San Luis Obispo County residents will practice the “drop, cover and hold on” maneuver.

More than 8 million people in the state are signed up to participate in The Great California ShakeOut, The event is an opportunity for people to practice what to do in the event of an earthquake as well as think about preparing a disaster plan for surviving the quake’s aftermath, said Ron Alsop, San Luis Obispo County emergency services coordinator.

County workers will participate in the drill as well as individuals, families, schools, businesses and nonprofit groups, Alsop said.

Experts say that during a quake, people should drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table and firmly hold on to it. If no table is available, drop to the floor near an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.

Resist the urge to run outside, experts say. Most people killed or injured in a quake are struck by bricks, tiles or chunks of masonry falling off the exterior of a building.

In the December 2003 San Simeon earthquake, two women were killed when the Acorn Building in Paso Robles collapsed on them when they tried to exit a shop.

In addition to being familiar with what to do during an earthquake, families should have a disaster preparedness plan that includes a three-day supply of food and water and plans to get in touch with family members after the quake.

All of California is highly earthquake prone. There is a 50 percent chance of a magnitude 7.5 or greater earthquake somewhere in California in the next 30 years.

In 1989, the magnitude 7.1 Loma Prieta Earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay area, killing 63 people, injuring more than 3,700 and causing more than $5.9 billion in property losses.

To register to participate in today’s drill, go to www.shakeout.org. More information about earthquake preparedness can be found at www.earthquakecountry.org.