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Statewide Earthquake Drill Planned for 10:17 on Oct. 17

Damian Dovarganes
AP Photo
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State officials are hoping people across Washington will drop to the floor and take cover on Thursday morning. It’s part of a massive earthquake drill that organizers say has attracted more than 800,000 people so far.

Go to the website for the Great Washington ShakeOut, and you’re met with video showing a major earthquake violently shaking the ground. The video, and the website it's on, are a project of the Washington state Department of Emergency Management.

John Schelling, the earthquake, tsunami, and volcano program manager, says obviously, no one can really predict when the next earthquake will hit, but when it does, he wants Washington residents to be ready.

“We want people to get into their muscle memory the most important life safety action they can take during an earthquake, which is to drop, cover, and hold on,” Schelling said.

The drill is set for Thursday at 10:17 a.m., a time picked to coincide with the date. The public won’t notice anything special when it happens. Instead, participants are asked to stop where they are, drop the ground and take cover.

Schelling says he hopes the drill also encourages people to put together an emergency supply kit, which can be used for other events, too.

“Going into winter storm season, if folks remember last year, we had extended power outages for a week or more in some cases, not unlike an earthquake. So making sure you’re ready for the next earthquake, as well as winter storm season coming up, it’s just the perfect opportunity and makes a lot of sense,” said Schelling.

Schelling says so far more than 800,000 Washington residents are expected to participate in Thursday’s drill. He’s hoping that number will reach a million by Thursday.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.