Earthquake drill aimed at safety, preparedness

CofC students Drop, Cover and Hold On during last year's Shakeout (John Gaddy/WCIV)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) - Groups across the Charleston will join more than 200,000 people in the Southeast and millions of others across the country on Thursday to participate in an earthquake safety drill.

Groups will learn what to do before, during and after an earthquake as part of the event, called the Great Southeast ShakeOut. The event will be signaled at 10:18 a.m. by a special tone on NOAA weather radios.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is scheduled to join students in the College of Charleston's Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) for the drill.

"The earthquake dance helps teach young children about earthquakes without scaring them," geology professor Erin Beutel said. "This year we're aiming for a city-wide earthquake drill. We've been working with organizations across the Lowcountry, including the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry, the Mayor's Office and College departments so everyone will be prepared."

On major myth they hope to debunk is that standing in a doorway will save you from falling debris.

"The doorway myth started because of a photo of the doorway in a California adobe left standing after a quake, but most modern doorways will not stay standing. The best way to be safe is to take cover under your desk, or somewhere immediately accessible and hold on," Beutel said.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley declared the week Earthquake Awareness Week to further promote earthquake preparedness around the state.

According to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, citing information from the College of Charleston, the state experiences 10 to 20 earthquakes each year.

The largest earthquake recorded on the eastern seaboard happened in 1886. The epicenter of that 7.3-magnitude quake was located just outside of Charleston and felt from Chicago, Ill., to Cuba.

Emergency management experts say people can protect themselves and reduce the risk of injuries by remembering a simple motto: Drop, Cover and Hold On.

People experiencing an earthquake should drop to the ground, crawl under a sturdy desk or table and hold on until the shaking stops, experts said.

For more information on earthquake preparedness, click here.

The Red Cross also has a smartphone app for earthquake awareness and preparedness. The free app is available to people with iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches or Android devices.

"A recent Red Cross survey found that apps have tied social media as the fourth most popular way for people to get information during emergencies, making the Red Cross app development effort even more important," said Christina Monserrate, the regional director of communications at the Charleston Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The app lets users track earthquakes, send one-touch "I'm safe" messages to family and friends through social media and find Red Cross shelters.

The app can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store by searching for "American Red Cross."

For more information on earthquakes, visit these resources:South Carolina Emergency Management Division - http://www.scemd.orgS.C. Earthquake Education & Preparedness Program -


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