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Northridge Target shoppers participate in earthquake ShakeOut drill

October 20, 2011 | 11:34 am

Millions of Californians participated in an annual statewide earthquake drill Thursday morning.

At a Target store in Northridge, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa crouched underneath a red shopping cart surrounded by government officials and news photographers.

At 10:20 a.m., an announcement came over the loudspeaker informing customers that there was a quake drill underway, instructing customers to crouch and protect their head and neck.

"Everyone one of us in Southern California knows the Big One is coming," the mayor said. "It could happen right now."

Officials said it was important to hold drills in public places such as stores. People may be familiar with how to react in schools, offices and homes, but perhaps not a supermarket. Officials said not to run because it would leave the head and neck uncovered -- and could result in being fatally struck by falling objects. Or it could result in tripping and breaking a leg. Instead, officials said people should drop down, cover their head and neck and duck underneath something sturdy if possible, and hold on.

In a store, that means immediately crouching into a ball, then waddling away from any shelves that might drop objects.

Joan Giglione, a shopper at Target, said she thought the drill was a great idea. She crouched near the cosmetics aisle, and liked the fact she got advice on how to react in a store -- to get in the middle of the aisle to avoid falling objects.

"Get in the middle of the racks," she recalled hearing over the loudspeaker.

Shopper Molly Perdue saw the crowd of reporters and politicians on the floor during the drill, but kept on browsing for cleaning products, pushing her cart.

"I think it's good advice," she said, before confessing that she thought the idea of crouching in a Target as being silly. "I sort of just wanted to get in and out of here."


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-- Rong-Gong Lin II in Northridge

Photo: Robert W. Mackay, chief of a humanitarian assistance branch of the U.S. Northern Command, a division of the Defense Department, dives under a shopping cart at Target in Northridge during an earthquake drill for the Great California ShakeOut. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times