Public Safety

Get Down, ShakeOut, You Will Survive

An earthquake can strike at any time. Today at exactly 10:17 a.m., students at Lewis Middle School dove under desks and tables to practice what to do if the earth suddenly started shaking.

That is the point of ShakeOut, the largest earthquake drill in the United States. To learn and practice the safest thing to do in an earthquake, and to think about ways to prevent hazards like toppling furniture, appliances and glass items.

More than 24 million people worldwide are committed to participate in the drill; 9.5 million are from California and more than 830,000 are from San Diego County. By comparison, last year, 9.4 million participated in the state and nearly 703,400 San Diegans took part.

Some 1,000 students at Lewis Middle School in Allied Gardens hit the floor at 10:17 a.m. today as they started their fourth class of the day.  The students crouched under desks or tables and covered their heads and grabbed onto the desk or table leg and held on.

“Schools are one of our ShakeOut successes. Here in San Diego, nearly all the schools in our region are registered to participate and are helping to educate the new generation on the safest thing to do when an earthquake hits unexpectedly,” said Leslie Luke of the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services. “We also commend all the individuals, families, and offices who took less than three minutes to practice ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold on’ and considered earthquake safety.”

At Lewis school, Geologist Pat Abbott took some time to talk to students about the geology of earthquakes and their real potential in San Diego County. A San Diego Fire battalion chief also talked to school officials about hazards to check for after an earthquake hits.

“In the immediate aftermath of a major earthquake, people need to be careful about coming out from under their shelter because aftershocks are still very likely,” said San Diego Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Dan Froelich.  “They should first check themselves for injuries and then check on others in the vicinity. First responders may not be quick to come in a disaster, so it is important that some first aid materials be available for treating minor injuries.”

 “When it is safe, people need to check their home or building for potential hazards like gas leaks or fires that may have erupted. If a gas leak is confirmed, the gas line must be turned off,” he said.

Tony Young, CEO for the Red Cross San Diego-Imperial Counties, said, “Everybody needs to know what to do in the event of an earthquake and they need to be prepared. If your family or business was not able to participate today, you can still hold a drill in the next few weeks and be counted.”

To learn more about what to do to prepare before an earthquake, visit, and

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact