Great ShakeOut drill preps Californians for earthquake

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Millions across the state participated in the ninth annual Great California ShakeOut for earthquake preparedness. (KABC)

Millions across the state participated in the ninth annual Great California ShakeOut, a simulated earthquake drill.

The drill took place at 10:20 a.m. Thursday. Participants were told to drop to the ground, take cover under a desk or table and hold on for 60 seconds.

"Glasses, books, TVs, sometimes light fixtures will fall" during an earthquake, said Jeffrey Lusk, a mitigation division director with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "Drop down to the ground, cover yourself by getting under a sturdy object or cover the back of your neck if you're out in the open. It's just the most basic step you can take to protect yourself."

Another important aspect of preparedness is earthquake insurance.

Chris Nance from the California Earthquake Authority says earthquake insurance has changed quite a bit, especially this year, offering more coverage choices and more deductible options.

"Earthquake insurance is more affordable than ever. Rates have dropped for homeowners 55 percent in the last 20 years," Nance said.

He added that for many, earthquakes are "out of sight, out of mind," and unfortunately, buying earthquake insurance after a quake can't help you.

"Earthquake damage can be very expensive. You need to talk to your agent right away," Nance said.

Keeping structures secure is also an issue. Metal braces can make a big difference.

Retrofitting the average house in California could cost approximately $5,000. The California Earthquake Authority is trying to help people out and bring that cost down.

"Our program called Earthquake Brace and Bolt provides up to $3,000 to homeowners who retrofit their houses," explained Janiele Maffei with the California Earthquake Authority.

While shaking gets all the attention, there are plenty of other dangers to keep in mind after an earthquake. Downed power lines can be a killer.

Power officials said a quake can cause multiple power poles to come down simultaneously in a domino effect. They advised people to treat downed wires as if they're energized and stay away.

This year, 10.6 million people were registered to take part in the statewide drill, according to the public-private partnership Earthquake Country Alliance.

This included students from Dearborn Street Elementary School.

"It's really dangerous, and you have to duck under, and you have to cover your head because if you don't, then something might fall on your head, and that's very dangerous because your head is the most important thing," said student Lauren Hollins.

The drill has been an annual event since 2008.

For more information on the Great California ShakeOut, visit http://www.shakeout.org/california.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Related Topics:
newsearthquakeemergency drillCalifornia
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