Shakeout BC hits SFU

The mock-up of a post-disaster zone demonstrated the importance of securing your space.

Members of the SFU community were encouraged to “drop, cover, and hold on” last Thursday, October 16, as the university participated in Shakeout BC.

Shakeout BC is an annual event that involves people not only in BC, but all over the world, performing the same earthquake drill. This year’s drill took place at 10:16 a.m. and approximately 73,000 people participated in BC alone.

The event was held at all three SFU campuses from 9:30 a.m. to noon. SFU’s Safety and Risk Services (SRS) set up information booths and displays in order to educate passersby about earthquake preparedness, and even practise the drill with people walking by.

The day held a particular relevance for the SFU community, as the university is located in the Lower Mainland of BC, one of the most seismically active regions in Canada.

The main goal of the organizers was to stress the importance of being familiar with the internationally recognized safety procedure, “drop, cover, and hold on.”

“A lot of people are unsure of what to do if they felt an earthquake,” said Miranda Myles, emergency and continuity planner for SRS. She explained that a surprising number of people who came up to the booths were unfamiliar with the procedure.

There was also a session on earthquake safety hosted by ResLife staff in the Dining Hall the night before.

For the event, SRS staged a mock-up of a post-earthquake scene. The rooms demonstrated how an office might look if none of its furniture had been secured prior to the earthquake.

Myles explained this was “to show the importance of securing your space and making sure the things around you are secure.” This could mean fixing furniture in place or removing heavy items from high places.

Last year, SRS published a video in which McFogg the Dog demonstrates how to respond to an earthquake in various campus settings.

“You do the same thing no matter where you are,” said Myles. “Drop to the ground. If you don’t have a table to get under, you still cover your head with your hands, and try to tuck up against something like a wall, something sturdy that you can brace yourself against.”

She continued, “After the shaking stops, you should stay wherever you are for about a minute just to let things settle, and to take a minute to look around. Then proceed outside. We want to encourage people to stay away from buildings and move into more open areas like parking lots and the field.”

The video also includes some advice from SFU president Andrew Petter on how to prepare for an earthquake. “Prepare an emergency kit with items like food, water, a flashlight,” he said. “And any other essential items,” he added, as he put a stuffed bear into his go bag.