One of the keys to surviving a natural disaster or any kind of emergency is preparation.
On Thursday, Oct. 16, Cal Poly Pomona will take part in the Great California ShakeOut, along with more than 9 million other Californians.
At 10:16 a.m., building marshals, floor captains, and other emergency responders will instruct everyone to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” for one minute.
The purpose of the ShakeOut is to remind people that an earthquake can happen at any moment, and preparation is essential in an emergency.
Following the guidelines of “Drop, Cover and Hold On” is extremely important during an earthquake, says Debbi McFall, emergency services coordinator. It can mean the difference between staying safe or getting injured.
“The statistics say that you are 30 percent more likely to be injured or killed if you don’t stay put while the world is shaking,” McFall, says. “It goes against human nature because of our fight or flight instinct, but it’s safer to wait till the earth stops shaking to move around again.”
Because of strict California seismic building codes, buildings are constructed to withstand large earthquakes, McFall says. After the shaking stops is the proper time to assess the situation and determine whether it is safer to leave the building or to stay inside.
Cal Poly Pomona has been participating in the drill since it started in 2008, and McFall says that repetition is the key to ensuring people are prepared.
“People don’t have to do it a million times, just a time or two, but then it’s in there. It’s like a muscle memory,” she says. “The drill is designed to create the memory of the action to take so that everyone will automatically take that action during an actual earthquake.”
McFall wants emergency responders to be creative while encouraging participation. Some building marshals are taping candy bars under desks for participants to find, while others will play audio from an earthquake so the drill feels more realistic.
Other departments will play a safety video all day to remind people about the importance of having an emergency preparedness kit available.
“This is a learn-by-doing institution, and by teaching people to ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On,’ we’re helping prepare them for an emergency before it happens,” McFall says.