Thursday, October 25, 2012

Great California Shakeout Hits Schools

Lewis Middle School students duck and cover.
Lewis Middle School students duck and cover.
The last major earthquake to rip through San Diego was way back in 1857, an estimated magnitude 7.9. However, San Diego Unified isn’t getting complacent, as all students and staff took part in the recent Great California ShakeOut, an earthquake emergency drill.

Lewis Middle School in Allied Gardens, was given the opportunity to demonstrate its emergency preparedness for local media. When the alarm bells began to sound, students quickly got under the desks, protecting themselves using the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” technique. Eventually, teachers guided their students to the school's playground, where teachers and administrators took roll and ensured all were evacuated.

"It's important so that if an earthquake occurs, every class knows what to do and we are prepared for it," said student Ben Petty-Hull.

Earthquakes can strike at any moment with devastating consequences. All schools have emergency response plans in place and are prepared should an earthquake or other disaster strike during school hours. In an effort to continually promote safety and emergency preparedness, schools routinely practice emergency drills.

"Parents trust us every day to keep their kids educated and safe. We use valuable teaching time to make ensure that students and staff know exactly what to do during and after an earthquake," said teacher Elizabeth Hunter-Drake. English teacher Joe Ferro said drills are an important part of the school routine.

"I think it would be utter chaos" if drills weren't conducted, Ferro said. "It's necessary to prepare students so that when an emergency does take place, it's not such a frightening event."

An estimated 700,000 San Diego residents participated the ShakeOut drill held on Oct. 18; more than 19.2 million around the world observed the fifth-annual event. Learn more on how to prepare for an earthquake or other disasters by visiting For more on your school's disaster plan, check with the principal.

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