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ShakeOut set to be largest disaster drill in history

USC has participated in the drill since its inception in 2008 as part of the university’s emergency preparedness program.

For the sixth consecutive year, USC will participate in the Great California ShakeOut disaster drill. Along with millions of other people throughout the state, USC students, faculty and staff will “drop, cover and hold on” for 60 seconds at 10:17 a.m. on Oct. 17.

The world’s largest earthquake drill, the ShakeOut aims to inform people on how to prepare for, survive and recover from the next major quake. More than 22 million people are registered to participate this year — including 9 million in California — making it the biggest disaster drill in history.

“The ShakeOut is our annual opportunity to stress to staff, faculty and students the importance of earthquake preparedness and the need to ‘drop, cover and hold on’ when an earthquake strikes,” said Steve Goldfarb, fire safety and emergency planning specialist with USC Career and Protective Services. “By having everyone in California participate in the brief earthquake drill on the same day, we hope people will talk about preparedness around campus and on social media.”

Based at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the Southern California Earthquake Center established the drill in 2008 and has since coordinated these annual events to inform the public about earthquake preparedness. What initially started as a California-specific drill — using a magnitude 7.8 temblor on the San Andreas Fault as the backdrop — has expanded to various other states, U.S. territories such as American Samoa, British Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico, and internationally in Japan and Italy.

USC has been participating in the drill since its inception as part of the university’s extensive emergency preparedness program managed by the Office of Fire Safety and Emergency Planning. This year, more than 200 staff and faculty ShakeOut ambassadors will share the preparedness message and facilitate the drill throughout the university.

Trojans who are inside a building when the drill takes place should move no more than a few steps, then drop, cover and hold on: drop to the ground, take cover by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on to it until the shaking stops. Those who are outdoors when the drill starts should find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights and power lines, then drop, cover and hold on.

The USC Engemann Student Health Center staff will also practice setting up a medical treatment center on Cromwell Field during the early morning hours.

In addition to participating in the drill, the USC Office of Fire Safety and Emergency Planning encourages all Trojans to evaluate their personal preparedness. This may include assembling a new emergency kit or updating an existing kit for the home, car and office. People should also take time to secure furnishings in their homes, such as their bookcases, televisions and cabinets.

For more information on how to get prepared and a list of recommended supplies, visit

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ShakeOut set to be largest disaster drill in history

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