Over 280,000 in Lower Mainland to practise ‘ShakeOut’ drill Thursday morning

A poster instructing what to do when an earthquake hits. Source: The Great British Columbian ShakeOut.

Over 280,000 people in the Lower Mainland will simultaneously drop to the ground, take cover, and start counting Thursday at 10:20 a.m.

They will be joined by millions of people around the world – all participating in the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills, held every year to practise the safest procedures during a large quake.

Our provincial version, The Great British Columbia ShakeOut (GBCSO), encourages local schools and organizations to rehearse simple techniques in preparation for the “Big One.”

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You can head to the GBCSO website for more information, register and create a profile, and even get recordings to help simulate the real thing.

Experts agree the best action is dropping to the ground before the shaking knocks you down, finding cover underneath a study desk or table, holding on until the shaking stops, and then holding on some more until aftershocks pass, according to the GBCSO’s website.

They say the shaking is almost never the cause of injury, but rather people trying to move during the quake.

The greatest dangers are not even building collapse (building codes have seen to that), but falling objects and flying debris.

If you are outdoors, it’s recommended you find a clear spot away from trees, buildings, powerlines, and streetlights, drop to the ground and stay put.

If you are driving, you should pull over to a clear area until the shaking stops, and then avoid bridges and other infrastructure which may be damaged from the quake.

B.C. is considered a high risk area compared to the rest of Canada, and geologists have been warning for decades that a massive quake is due to hit the Pacific Northwest.

The province sits on the edge of the Juan de Fuca Plate, which is slowly drifting underneath the North American plate.

Sometimes the plates catch, causing a vast amount of pressure to build up and release, resulting in a “megathrust.”

These events reportedly happen every 200 to 800 years. The last one – a 9.0 magnitude on Jan. 26, 1700 – shook all of B.C., Washington, Oregon and California, and created a massive tsunami.

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