to personally confirm the event. As a result, it is especially important to provide the public with advance education and training about earthquake risks and proper protective action.
The Earthquake Country Alliance (ECA) is a statewide coalition of California organizations and individuals who are developing materials and activities with consistent messaging. The goal is twofold: to educate people about preparedness and to educate people about protective actions. The ECA focuses on practicing simple protective action, such as that recommended in the easily remembered phrase “Drop, cover, and hold on.” The goal is that, through drills, not only will people learn appropriate protective behavior, but they would practice it instinctively when they received an alert. Annually the ECA coordinates a statewide drill called the Great California ShakeOut. The ECA provides manuals to participating organizations on how to perform an earthquake drill, as most organizations have not held such drills before. At the appointed time, the ECA also issues the test alert.
In addition to teaching people the simple actions advocated in “Drop, cover, and hold on,” the ShakeOut also provides an opportunity to educate participants on preparedness practices. Educating those living in earthquake country about preparedness is extremely important. To be properly prepared before an earthquake occurs, the ECA asks that people do the following: secure their living space, ensuring that top-heavy furniture, water heaters, television sets, and other heavy objects will not fall during an earthquake; store water, 1 gallon per person per day for at least 3 days, but ideally up to 2 weeks; and have a fire extinguisher and ensure that family members know how to use it properly. The ShakeOut is having an impact, as the state of California sees an increase in the purchase of preparedness products at the time of the drill.
The ShakeOut started in 2008 with the Great Southern California ShakeOut. November 12-16, 2008, was a week of special events to educate and encourage Southern Californians to be prepared; a regional drill was held November 13, 2008. There were 5.57 million participants—chiefly schools but also businesses, communities, governments, and families. In 2009 the event went statewide, with 6.9 million participants. The Shake-Out is now an annual event for which the ECA partners with state agencies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Although the ECA has been successful in recruiting businesses, schools, and organizations as participants, individual registrations are quite low. The ECA is using social media to encourage people to participate and also to count people who may not be registering.
Starting in 2011, participation in the drills will be extended to states in the central United States, coinciding with the bicentennial of large earthquakes which struck that region in 1811 and 1812. Similar drills are being