Monday, November 17, 2008

The Great Southern California Shakeout!

At 1 p.m. (10 a.m. Pacific), the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, NY, participated in the Great Southern California Shakeout! The museum is a member of the Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network, and we have earthquake activity as its seen from our seismographs on display for the public!

As a part of our outreach mission, we participated in the shakeout. Here's the story...

We have 26 staff at the museum, along with classroom visitors and general public walking through our doors every day. On the day before the Shakeout, all of the staff got together to learn why we were participating. Te Great Southern California Shakeout was an earthquake preparedness drill, similar to a fire drill, etc. So, it was practice. But it was educated practice. The USGS (United States Geological Survey) actually calculated the possible strength of the next 'big earthquake' to hit the California region, and where it would occur along the San Andreas fault system. Based on that information, staged drills involving hospitals, medical centers, and other rescue workers, occurred throughout the week.

Also, all participating individuals and companies, like the Museum of the Earth, agreed to do a drill at the same time on Nov. 13th at 10 am Pacific. So, at 1 p.m. here on the East Coast, an announcement came across our PA system telling us that an earthquake was occurring. We had been instructed to "Drop, Cover, and Hold On." In the building I was in, we all climbed under our desks to hide from falling books, computers, and other dangerous objects. In the museum itself, guests were asked to find cover under our display cases where available, or just duck down and cover their heads to protect themselves.

I think it was a neat experience! The idea of having our museum guests participate to help educate the public is really what we're all about at the Museum of the Earth, and it was certainly a hands on experience for everyone.

Some highlighted information to take home:
1) The majority of people who die during an earthquake do so not because of collapsing buildings, but from trauma to the head (from, say, a huge textbook falling on our heads). That's why they suggest that you Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Dropping and covering protect your head, and holding on to a large piece of furniture keeps you in the same place relative to the large furniture.

2) Finding a doorframe to protect yourself under is not the safest thing to do. You may not be able to walk once the earthquake starts, so the best thing to do is drop where you are.

3) If you climb under your desk, you're bound to find dustbunnies!

Cheers from the Museum!!!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the posting! It's neat that we have the tools to participate in exercises like this, even at a distance. (Although this makes me think of my youth, when we had to "duck and cover" under our elementary school desks in case there was a nuclear attack.)


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