ShakeOut: Reminder to have a disaster plan
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- Service members at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center drop, cover and hold on while they participate in the 2012 Great California ShakeOut! Oct. 18.

PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- The Presidio community participated in the largest earthquake drill in the nation Oct. 18.

Along with some 9.4 million other Californians, Presidio community members practiced the "drop, cover and hold on" drill recommended by experts as essential for avoiding injury and even death in the event of a major earthquake.

Interestingly, the drill was followed two days later by a moderate earthquake in the area. While, many residents might not have felt the 5.3 earthquake as it occurred at 11:55 p.m. Oct. 20, a reported 6,700 people did report feeling the quake, according to an Associated Press article.

The 2012 Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill exceeded all expectations, according to event organizers. More than 9.4 million Californians--many following specific drill broadcast instructions on more than 70 California radio and television stations--simultaneously practiced the "drop, cover, and hold on" drill recommended by experts as essential for avoiding injury and even death in the event of a major earthquake.

Presidio participants received notification in various ways, including the "Giant Voice," computer messages and verbal commands.

In addition, 4.9 million people in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, British Columbia and Southern Italy participated in their own ShakeOut drills, making an Oct. 18 total of 14.3 million people, an increase from 9.5 million on ShakeOut day in 2011, according to

Also impressive is the growth since the event's inception in Southern California in 2008; that number was 5.4 million registered participants.

"In five years we've seen the number of participants worldwide more than triple," said Earthquake Country Alliance Executive Director Mark Benthien. He added that "More than half the territory of the United States is subject to major earthquakes, and more and more people are recognizing the importance of being prepared to survive and recover when--not if--they happen."

While students are generally stationed here at the Presidio for no more than two years, the fact they can experience earthquakes almost anywhere in the world makes the training extremely important.

Two earthquakes in the last couple of years involved service members--one during and one after the event.

First, during the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that shook the Washington, D.C., region Aug. 23, 2011, service members from almost a dozen military installations and the Pentagon felt the quake.

The second example is the 9.0-magnitude Tohoku earthquake in Japan in March 2011. The U.S. military sent assistance, including DLIFLC personnel, to the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku in the form of Operation Tomodachi.

(Additional information provided by The Great California ShakeOut. Readers may want to visit for resources and advice on how to prepare for earthquakes and other disasters.)

Page last updated Thu October 25th, 2012 at 15:46