If you were looking for someone and they were under a desk on Thursday, odds are you stumbled across The Great Shakeout, a mass earthquake awareness event that took place in businesses and schools.
At 10:19 a.m. Thursday morning, Central Okanagan Public Schools’ students dropped to the floor and hid under their desks, joining thousands of others in the drill to prepare for what many feel is an inevitable natural event in British Columbia.
Across B.C., more than 880,000 participants at their home, at work or in schools registered online to take part in the exercise.
Among them was teacher Lesley McGlinchey’s Grade 6 class at Watson Road Elementary in Kelowna.
When the earthquake alarm sounded, students ducked under their desks, assumed the crash position for two minutes while listening to their teacher’s instructions, and then filed out of their second floor classroom in an orderly fashion to the school yard.
Prior to the drill, McGlinchey talked to her students about how to safely react to an earthquake.
She cited the need to seek safety under a desk or table, preferably near the centre of the classroom, to protect themselves from falling debris.
If in the washroom, she reminded students to either hide under a sink if possible or the doorway entrance frame.
Watson Road principal Sylvain Guignard said like the six fire drills and one lockdown exercise the school conducts throughout the school year, the earthquake drill is intended to help relieve the sense of panic likely to occur when the long-predicted real earthquake strikes.
“A drill like this is meant to help relieve the stress by being prepared to react,” Guignard said.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said earthquakes are a fact of life in our province.
“We cannot know when the next big earthquake will strike, but we can take action to make our communities and families safer when it does happen,” said Farnsworth.
“While many (earthquakes in B.C.) are small, the risk of a big one hitting is real. That’s why we participate in ShakeOutBC, to teach people how to survive a big earthquake.”
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