Second- and third-graders in Shellie Dungan's class at Skyblue Mesa Elementary School practice hiding under their desks during the "Great ShakeOut" statewide earthquake drill Thursday morning. October 17, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.

ShakeOut reminds residents to prepare for earthquakes

At 10:17 a.m. on Oct. 17, thousands of Santa Clarita residents “dropped, covered and held on” during the annual Great ShakeOut earthquake drill.

This drill comes at a time when many Santa Clarita Valley residents have recently been reminded of the destruction an earthquake can cause, just a few months after the 7.1-magnitude Ridgecrest quake devastated nearby Kern County.

“I hadn’t felt a big one like that in years,” Canyon Country resident Wendy Piccolo said. “Sometimes you forget, living here as long as I have, the dangers of natural disasters … I was reminded very quickly of that — and that we all need to be ready for it to happen again.”

Students at Skyblue Mesa Elementary School practice evacuating their classrooms during the “Great Shakeout” earthquake drill Thursday morning. October 17, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.

The ShakeOut drills started in 2008 to teach residents how to prepare for a major earthquake. The event has grown over the years and is now being organized in numerous other states and countries worldwide.

“Living in Southern California, earthquake preparedness is key because unlike other natural disasters, you really have a limited warning time,” Mayor Pro Tem Cameron Smyth said. “By doing this ShakeOut every year, it’s a good reminder for everybody to have a plan, regardless of where you are, at home, work or school, be aware of your surroundings and know how to react in case there is an earthquake.”

The city of Santa Clarita scheduled drills at city facilities, including City Hall, public libraries and community centers, where Smyth made the broadcast to those in attendance.

“Today, you are joining millions of Californians in the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history,” Smyth said.

Skyblue Mesa Elementary student Leah Be and her classmates practice evacuating their classroom as part of the “Great ShakeOut” statewide earthquake drill Thursday morning. October 17, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Many local schools and businesses also took part, which Smyth said is important for everyone, especially children.

“I have three kids that are at three different schools, so if there is an earthquake, it’s important for us, as it is for all parents, to know where our kids are going to be, that they know how to react and to know they’ll be safe,” he added.

Drills like this are not only a great opportunity to learn how to be safer during an earthquake, but also to secure emergency plans and supplies, according to Rebecca Widdison, a management analyst with the city.

Skyblue Mesa Elementary School student Samantha Jimenez-Juarez practices taking cover under her desk during the “Great ShakeOut” earthquake drill Thursday morning. October 17, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.

City officials remind residents to avoid doorways and instead take cover under something sturdy and hold on until the shaking stops and it is safe to move.

“It’s been a while since I participated in anything like this,” Santa Clarita resident Tom Jones said. “I sort of forget that it’s one of the necessary evils of living here, but it’s definitely an important reminder.”

For more earthquake safety and preparedness tips, visit ShakeOut.org or contact Widdison at 661-284-1407 or [email protected].  

Students at Skyblue Mesa Elementary School practice evacuating their classrooms as part of the “Great Shakeout” earthquake drill Thursday morning. October 17, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.
Skyblue Mesa Elementary School Principal Kimberly Humphries leads students on during the “Great California Shakeout” statewide earthquake drill that saw schools engaging in evacuation drills Thursday afternoon.October 17, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.
Students at Skyblue Mesa Elementary School practice evacuating their classrooms as part of the “Great ShakeOut” statewide earthquake drill Thursday morning. October 17, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.

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