Great California ShakeOut prepares locals for earthquakes

Sam Heyrat, left, and John Pears get under the table during The Great California ShakeOut, a state-wide earthquake drill, at Valencia Library on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. The two are members of Angel Wings Agency, a local group that supports people with disabilities. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

All over Santa Clarita, locals were encouraged to “drop, cover and hold on” during the 9th annual Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill Thursday morning.

Across the state, 10.4 million people ducked under tables and desks at work, school and public facilities to practice what to do in case of an emergency.

In addition to schools and businesses, Santa Clarita’s libraries took part in the ShakeOut, encouraging patrons to take a break from reading to find a safe spot to protect themselves and make note of anything around them that could topple over if an earthquake occurred.

“It brings awareness and causes them to pause and think about their preparedness,” Santa Clarita Public Library PR and Marketing Coordinator Stacy Schlesinger said.

Often, people only think of how they would react in an emergency at home and do not plan what to do if they are in a public place, Schlesinger said.

“You’re at work and school more than anywhere else,” she said.

Many of the community members at the Santa Clarita Public Library in Valencia were not aware the ShakeOut was occurring Thursday morning but used it as a learning experience.

For retired teacher Kathy Visin, the drill gave her an opportunity to ease her grandchildren’s nerves about earthquakes. She said both four-year-old Tenley and two-year-old Kurtis said they were afraid right before the ShakeOut started, but they enjoyed themselves when it happened.

“It was really good,” Visin said. “It is kind of fun to do with the kids. It’s an opportunity to share with them.”

Members of Angel Wings Agency, a local group that supports people with disabilities, get under a table during The Great California ShakeOut, a state-wide earthquake drill, at Valencia Library on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

A group of 24 with Angel Wings Agency, which helps adults who have developmental disabilities with daily activities, were spending the morning at the library during the drill.

The whole group handled the event well and all participated by taking cover, according to Executive Director and Owner Emily Owens.

“We practice this in the program,” Owens said. “They were prepared and definitely aware.”

With a hard hat on, Councilman Bill Miranda led a group of children and their parents outside of the library who were participating in story time to practice evacuating after an earthquake.

The annual event serves as a reminder of the Northridge Earthquake, Miranda said.

“The lessons learned from 1994 were immeasurable,” the councilman said. “We thought we were prepared and we were not. Emergencies do not hit in ideal circumstances.”

To be prepared, Miranda suggests having candles, flashlights and extra batteries on hand and leaving slippers by one’s bed to avoid walking on broken glass if something gets knocked over.

Families evacuate Valencia Library while participating in story time during The Great California ShakeOut, a state-wide earthquake drill, on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Earthquake Country Alliance identifies seven steps for earthquake safety, including securing one’s space by identifying hazards and securing moveable items; creating a disaster plan and deciding how to communicate in an emergency; organizing disaster supplies at home, work and in one’s car; organizing important documents and considering insurance; ducking and covering while an earthquake occurs; evacuating after an earthquake if necessary; and reconnecting with others and repairing damage after it is over.

For those who want to create their own disaster supply kit, Earthquake Country Alliance recommends:

  • Medications, prescription list, copies of medical cards, doctor’s name and contact information
  • Medical consent forms for dependents
  • Copies of personal identification (driver’s license, work ID card)
  • First aid kit and handbook
  • Examination gloves (non-latex)
  • Dust mask
  • Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses and cleaning solution
  • Bottled water
  • Whistle (to alert rescuers to your location)
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Emergency cash
  • Road maps
  • List of emergency out-of-area contact phone numbers
  • Snack foods (high in water and calories)
  • Working flashlight or light sticks with extra batteries and light bulbs
  • Personal hygiene supplies
  • Toiletries
  • Comfort items (games, crayons, writing materials, teddy bears)
  • Special provisions for those with disabilities, the elderly, small children and animals

Household preparedness:

  • Water (minimum one gallon a day for each person)
  • Wrenches to turn off gas and water supplies
  • Work gloves and protective goggles
  • Heavy duty plastic bags (for waste and to serve as tarps or rain ponchos)
  • Portable radio with extra batteries (or hand crank for charging)
  • Additional flashlights or light sticks
  • Canned and packaged foods
  • Charcoal or gas grill for outdoor cooking and matches
  • Cooking utensils (including a manual can opener)
  • Pet food and pet restraints
  • Comfortable, warm clothing (including extra socks)
  • Blankets, sleeping bags and a tent
  • Copies of vital documents (insurance policies)

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