Nevadans are preparing for one of the largest disaster drills in the state, the annual Great Nevada ShakeOut. Over 600,000 participants have already registered for the event happening this Thursday, Oct. 15. The University of Nevada, Reno, is just one campus out of over 600 worldwide that will be participating in drills that morning.
The ShakeOut has been organized by UNR, the Nevada Seismological Laboratory, the Nevada Department of Public Safety and several other organizations. The drill that will be focused on this year is “Drop, Cover and Hold on.” Participants will quickly find cover under desks or other objects, and they will also discuss earthquake safety after completing the drill.
According to the ShakeOut’s website, this specific drill is being done to focus on getting to a safer situation in an instant without moving from place to place.
Studies provided by the Earthquake Country Alliance indicate that the drop, cover and hold on technique is the ideal way to protect oneself from falling objects. Studies also show that people are more likely to get hurt by said objects than by falling or crumbling buildings, so covering up is more important than running out into open space.
Researchers and safety advocates have been focusing on ways to minimize the harm inflicted on people by earthquakes. California adopted the ShakeOut as a form of organized practice in 2008. Nevada joined with drills coordinated by the Nevada Seismological Laboratory in 2010.
Nevada is the third most seismically active state in the nation, and the western Nevada region, which includes Washoe County, has the highest earthquake hazard in the state according to the NSL. Over 130,000 participants reside in the area and are preparing themselves for good reason. The Great ShakeOut site says that within the next 50 years the urban parts of the region have between a 60 and 75 percent chance of being hit by a damage-causing, magnitude-6 quake.
“A lot of people don’t think of Nevada as being a high earthquake hazard region, but the reality is that we have as much seismic hazard here as places you think of regularly like LA, the Bay Area, [or] the Pacific Northwest,” said Annie Kell, an education and outreach seismologist for the Nevada Seismological Laboratory, during a meeting of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada senate.
The most recent damaging earthquakes occurred in 1994 and 2008 in Gardnerville and Reno. The magnitude of the quakes were 5.9 and 6.0, respectively. Both areas and most of the region lie where potential shaking can be moderate to frequently severe, according to the 2005 Earthquake Potential Shaking Map provided by the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology.
The ShakeOut has become a worldwide effort dedicated to preparing the public for earthquakes. These quakes can be both unpredictable and extremely dangerous at times.
The ShakeOut provides insight and proper techniques for times when quakes occur without warning.
Organizers of the event are warning against practices like hiding beneath doorways and running outside or to other areas within a building. They urge people to immediately place themselves in the safer “crawling” position in order to protect vital organs, while holding onto something that provides secure, overhead protection like a desk or table.
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