Public Safety

Taft Middle School Students Practice Drop, Cover, Hold On

At the sound of a bell, a recording came over the loudspeaker telling students the Great California ShakeOut had begun. More than 500 students at Taft Middle School dropped out of their desks and scooted underneath to protect their heads as part of the statewide earthquake drill today.

“More San Diegans participated in the ShakeOut drill this year than in previous years,” said Herman Reddick, San Diego County Office of Emergency Services interim director. “We continue to encourage people to learn more about earthquake preparedness, complete a family disaster plan and create a home emergency kit to help them recover after a major earthquake.”

Across the state, a record 8.6 million people — individuals, families, schools, businesses, government agencies and organizations registered for the Great California ShakeOut. In San Diego County 696,944 pledged to drill this year, according to preliminary figures.

Today, Taft students waited under their desks for more than 60 seconds until the ShakeOut audio recording concluded. Next, teachers and students walked to a clear field, away from buildings and trees that could be damaged and dangerous in a real earthquake.

Eighth-grader Janhael Viray, 13, who took part in the drill, said she thinks it’s important for everyone to practice earthquake safety at school.

“I wasn’t frightened, but it did make me think about what would really happen if it were real, and that made me a little nervous,” Viray said.

Taft Principal Mike George said preparedness drills are critical for schools.

“We’re entrusted with the safety of these children, so if an earthquake were to occur, we’d need to get them through the first stages of the disaster,” said George.

Geologist and local earthquake expert Pat Abbott told the group, “For the vast majority of Californians, the best thing to do is to drop, cover and hold on.”

By getting under a heavy table or desk, people can avoid falling objects and minimize injuries.

The ShakeOut drill is over this year, but there is still time to learn about disaster preparedness. Family disaster plan templates in various languages are available on

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