Great Shakeout earthquake drill Thursday

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

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A full list of tips and advice is available on the Great Shakeout's website.

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Giant earthquake drill set for Thursday

If you notice friends and co-workers hiding under their desks at 10:18 a.m. Thursday, don't be afraid — the zombie apocalypse hasn't begun.

You might want to follow their example, though. Dropping, finding cover and holding on is good practice for what could otherwise be an equally scary situation: an earthquake.

Agencies, businesses and individuals across Clark County will participate in Great Shakeout earthquake drill Thursday. The event started in Southern California in 2008 and is now held all over the world.

About 17,800 people in the county have signed up to participate, although you don't have to do that to join the exercise, said Cindy Stanley, emergency management coordinator with the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency.

"We have found that if you don't schedule drills like this, nothing happens," Stanley said. "And practicing, creating muscle memory, is important for earthquake preparation."

Clark County, C-Tran, Clark College, K-12 schools and districts, health agencies and a host of local businesses have signed up for the drill at The Great Washington Shakeout.

To join in, all you have to do is wait till 10:18 a.m. Thursday, get down on the floor, find something to shelter yourself, cover your head and hold on.

"In an earthquake, things move," Stanley said. "Sometimes people will get under the desk and move with it, which can save lives. Look around where you are, a lot of debris can come down if you don't protect yourself."

The drill is also a good excuse to check and see what's under your desk.

"Sometimes there are wires and things down there that you don't realize," Stanley said. "It's a good opportunity to take pictures of each other under there, as you're checking to make sure the space is safe."

If you're in bed during an earthquake, you should stay there and cover your head with pillows, she said.

"It's also a good plan to keep sturdy shoes under your bed, just in case, because when you go to bed you don't have shoes on, and things can break in an earthquake," she said.

Door frames aren't generally safer than anyplace else, despite common assumptions. Most modern door frames are simply cut out of plywood and aren't reinforced.