Earthquake drill Thursday aimed at safety, preparedness

Drop, Cover and Hold On (John Gaddy/WCIV)

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

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

The College of Charleston was among the organizations participating in the ShakeOut locally. Students, faculty and staff were asked to take cover during the drill. The school also held public talks to discuss the importance of earthquake safety.

Organizers also put together games for children at the N.E. Miles Early Childhood Development Center to help them understand earthquakes, the school 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.

The most recent earthquake in the Charleston area was measured at a 2.8 magnitude and located three miles from Summerville on July 31.

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 was released less than a month ago, Monserrate said in a statement, and has already been downloaded more than 1 million times.

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."