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Statewide earthquake drill, ShakeOut, planned Thursday morning

October 19, 2011 |  6:19 pm

More than 8 million Californians are expected to participate in a statewide earthquake drill at 10:20 a.m. Thursday.

From classrooms to offices to a Target store in Northridge, people will be asked to drop, cover and hold on as the minute strikes. Participants can register at www.shakeout.org.

"Across the state, we're asking folks to drill to practice," said John Bwarie, a spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey. "Every time you practice, that'll give you more time to prepare when the shaking actually does start to occur."

In Northridge, a recording will be broadcast over the loudspeaker at a Target store asking customers to drop to the ground, take cover by getting underneath a sturdy desk or table and holding on to it until the shaking stops.

At Caltech in Pasadena, the college will send text messages to students and professors and ask them to participate.

The earthquake drills have grown steadily since they began in Southern California in 2008. Thursday's drill also will be held in British Columbia, Guam, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. Officials from Chile, China, Japan and Mexico will be visiting a ShakeOut drill site in Northridge to learn from the event.

"People that are not prepared for disaster are inviting disaster," said Kenneth Hudnut, a geophysicist for the U.S. Geological Survey.

Hudnut also advised the public to take a couple more steps: "Make sure that things in your office or your home are not going to fly and hit" people during a quake, he said.

He also urged people to make sure they have plenty of water, have comfortable walking shoes under beds and in cars, and have emergency supplies both at home and in their cars.

Hudnut also urged that when an earthquake happens, "If you're inside, stay inside. If you're outside, stay outside. A lot of our fatalities in earthquakes are when people run outside from a building, and the building may collapse out onto the sidewalk."

Officials say groups can schedule drills for a later time. Some college dorms, for example, are holding their drill at 10:20 p.m. when students will be in their rooms. And on Saturday, an entire neighborhood in the Hermon area of northeast Los Angeles will undergo a community-wide drill.

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-- Rong-Gong Lin II in Pasadena

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