Get ready to drop, cover and hold on

The Great British Columbia Shakeout Drill designed to encourage earthquake preparedness.

Get ready to drop, cover and hold on.

The B.C. Earthquake Alliance Society is organizing the third annual provincewide earthquake drill Thursday (Oct. 18) at 10:18 a.m. to enhance public awareness of the earthquake hazard in B.C. and to encourage preparedness.

Both the City of Nanaimo and the Regional District of Nanaimo are encouraging all residents, businesses and organizations to participate in the drill, which asks people to drop to the floor, find cover under a desk or table, and hold on.

Karen Lindsay, the city’s emergency program manager, said most people underestimate the power of an earthquake.

“A lot of people believe they’ll be able to run out of the building they are in but what they don’t realize is the ground can be moving six feet side to side,” said Lindsay. “That shaking will drop you to the floor, you won’t be able to run. It’s a very unusual sensation and your body doesn’t really fully understand what’s going on.

“It can take quite a bit of time before your body clues in to what is happening which is why we’re encouraging this drill so people can practise.”

Lindsay added that reports from areas that have experienced large earthquakes say that injuries and fatalities often result from people who try to flee instead of take cover.

“Where most of the injury and death occurs is from the debris that is flying around,” she said. “Things that normally stay still are moving around, or things are falling from above, so the drill is to practise protecting yourself from that possibility.”

The drop, cover and hold technique is an internationally accepted practice, and the event is also a reminder for people to check their emergency kits to ensure they will have enough food, water and emergency supplies to be self- sustaining for a minimum of 72 hours.

More than 12 million people in countries around the world participate annually.

Staff at all RDN facilities will also be participating in the Great B.C. Shakeout Drill, and transit drivers will pull over to the side of the road for the duration of the drill. Emergency first aid and rescue simulations will take place at some RDN facilities.

“The threat of an earthquake is a very real in this area of Vancouver Island, so it’s important to the RDN board that our staff members are prepared,” said Maureen Young, Electoral Area C director. “The Great British Columbia Shakeout Drill provides an excellent opportunity for everyone in the region to think about what they would do in the event of an earthquake.”

This year’s drill holds a particular significance for the RDN, as it is now registered as a Resilient City on the United Nation’s Strategic Disaster Reduction Resilient Cities campaign.

Local radio stations 102.3 The Wave and 106.9 The Wolf will air the audio for the drill at precisely 10:18 a.m. In the event of a real disaster of any type, both stations will be a source of critical emergency information for residents.

To register as an individual, business or organization, or to learn more information, visit www.shakeoutbc.ca.

For more information on local emergency protocols, please visit fire.nanaimo.ca or www.rdn.bc.ca.