Record number of British Columbians participate in ShakeOut earthquake drill

A record number of British Columbians – 785,000 – took part in the Great British Columbia ShakeOut on Thursday, joining millions around the world, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said.

“Since launching the Great British Columbia ShakeOut in 2011, we’ve seen participation jump from 470,000 to a new record of 785,000 in 2015,” said Dave Cockle, president of the BC Earthquake Alliance, in a press release. “I think that reflects an increased understanding of the earthquake risk in B.C. and the need to be prepared. We’re on our way to creating a culture of preparedness and making British Columbia a more resilient province.”

ShakeOutBC earthquake drills are held the third Thursday of every October. They encourage people at home, school and work to practice “Drop, Cover and Hold On” and consider the importance of overall preparedness to be better prepared to survive and recover quickly following an earthquake. Dropping to the ground prevents the earthquake from dropping a person first, while taking cover and holding on helps protect people from flying objects and falling debris, the IBC explained.

The more than 785,000 that registered for this year’s “Drop, Cover and Hold On” drill surpassed the 2014 total by more than 41,000, the IBC reported. Worldwide, nearly 41.5 million people have participated in Great ShakeOut drills to date in 2015.

Naomi Yamamoto, British Columbia’s Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, along with representatives from the BC Earthquake Alliance, IBC and the City of Vancouver, helped mark the event by participating in the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” drill during Earthquake Day at the Vancouver Public Library.

Yamamoto said that the drill is the safest action to take during an earthquake. “Given that BC has thousands of earthquakes annually, The Great British Columbia ShakeOut serves as an important reminder that every British Columbian must be prepared to be self-sufficient during the initial days after an earthquake,” she said, adding that all provincial residents are encouraged to have an emergency plan and emergency kits prepared.

More than 3,000 earthquakes occur in B.C. every year. “Most are too small to be felt, but the risk of one capable of causing major damage is real,” the release said, adding that there is a one in 10 chance for a “destructive megathrust earthquake in B.C. within the next 50 years.”


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