Students prep for 'Great ShakeOut' drill

EAGLE ROCK, Calif. Most seismologists and emergency experts will tell you that it's not a matter of "if," but "when." Southern California is due, they say, for a major earthquake. So as one way to nudge Californians toward preparedness, emergency officials are asking everyone to play along... Two weeks from now, they're going to fake an earthquake.

If the Northridge earthquake of 1994 taught any lesson, it's that Southern California quakes can be powerful and deadly. Fifty-seven people were killed that day, some 9,000 others injured.

That is why emergency-preparedness officials were shaking Eagle Rock High School students Wednesday, a lesson in how to survive a major quake and prepare for one.

"If we wait to organize, we wait to plan and then the big one hits, it's too late," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell.

This demonstration is just one of several leading up to what emergency officials call "The Great Southern California ShakeOut," a massive earthquake drill planned for November 13, 2008. Millions of people are asked to participate when the clock strikes 10 that morning.

"Our goal is that when the children go through the drill and they come home from school that night they are going to say, 'Mommy, I was in an earthquake drill today,' and mommy goes, 'You know, I had an earthquake drill at work today, too.' And we talk about it together and make earthquake preparedness something we talk about with our family," said USGS seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones.

More than 4,000 schools in the state will take part in the ShakeOut. Students are expected to drop, cover and hold on, safety advice geologists say will come in handy when the big one eventually hits again.

"We are aware now that we are going to have a large-scale earthquake. And we do not want to be having this conversation after the fact, I promise you," said Hillary Mendelsohn, executive director of SAFE-T.

The "Great Southern California ShakeOut" is slated for 10 a.m. on November 13.

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