COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -More than 2 million people across eight states, and in the nation’s capital, are expected to take part in Thursday’s Great SouthEast ShakeOut. This safety drill is the highlight of South Carolina’s ongoing Earthquake Preparedness Week.
Organizers hope to make it easy for people to remember exactly when it’s happening by scheduling the drill on Oct. 17 at 10:17 a.m.
At last check, more than 400,000 people in South Carolina were registered to participate.
This earthquake safety drill is part of an international effort to make people more aware of the dangers of earthquakes and what to do if you ever experience one. That’s drop to your hands and knees, use one hand to cover your head and neck and the other to hold onto something secure.
If you’re outside, officials say avoid buildings or large trees. Drivers should pull over and stay away from overpasses.
Emergency Management Division (EMD) officials say earthquakes are a real possibility in the Palmetto State. On average, our state experiences approximately 10 to 20 earthquakes every year. There have been eight, low-magnitude earthquakes recorded in our state since 2018.
In 1886 Charleston was hit with a 7.3 magnitude quake – the most damaging earthquake ever experienced in the eastern United States.
EMD Director Kim Stenson says, “An earthquake, unlike a hurricane – is you never know when it’s going to happen, and so, normally for a hurricane, we usually see that coming across the Atlantic and we’ve got time to prepare for it. For an earthquake, it’s going to be a no notice event. So, it’s something that you need to practice for. It’s not somebody can get in there before the event and tell you, ‘well you need to do these things.’ You have to be ready to do these things and prepare yourself for the potential of an earthquake.”
EMD program manager, David Perry, describes what it’s like to face an earthquake when you least expect it. He was on vacation with his wife earlier this year, in California.
“A 7.1 magnitude earthquake in a nine-story building and the entire building felt like that boat effect. So, really felt like we were going along for the ride. It was really a helpless feeling. So, it drove the importance of executing the drill until we knew that it was safe to move out of the building that we were in. We knew exactly what to do because we had rehearsed before. We knew that we need to drop, cover and hold on,” Perry said.
Having a plan helps to cut down on the chaos, according to Perry.
You can practice that plan during the Great SouthEast ShakeOut, Thursday. People are encouraged to participate at home, at school or your place of work.