As we mentioned last week, much of the west coast of North America, other parts of the US, and other countries around the Pacific Rim all run a coordinated earthquake drill in October of each year. This year’s drill will be on October 18, which gives you a whole month to plan how you’ll participate. This is not one of those big bureaucratic exercises where everybody spends half their time filling out forms and coordinating with everybody else; rather it’s a nice, simple educational exercise which is really easy for anyone to join.
What is involved? That’s the great thing about this drill; it’s organized so you can do as little or as much as you have the motivation, time, and energy for. The minimum level of commitment is to spend 60 seconds practicing Drop, Cover, and Hold On sometime during that week, so there’s really no excuse not to do at least that much. Of course what you get out of it depends in large part on what you put into it, so if you have the ability and inclination I suggest doing a bit more than the minimum.
How should you participate? A good place to start is to read the official Great California ShakeOut page. (If you live outside California, check the “Other ShakeOuts” link on that page.) They do a great job of explaining it so there is no need to repeat the information here. Once you’re familiar with how it all works, I suggest you talk to your boss if you’ll be at work that Thursday morning, and ask if your company can participate. Have a very short explanation ready because many people are receptive but have simply never heard of “The Great ShakeOut” before. If you’ll be at home you can have a conversation with your family, or if your kids will be at school you could check with their teachers.
- Motivation: If you’re the one suggesting it then you’d better set a good example, so you’ll be motivated to actually follow through.
- Comfort: Many people are less self-conscious about practicing when they’re part of a whole group doing it. If you’re one of them, this is a great way to get past that roadblock.
- Improved learning: When you’re helping to teach a subject, even in a very small way, you learn it better yourself.
- Good karma: You’ll be helping other people be more prepared, and that might even save a life someday.
- Gold stars: Good managers love employees who show initiative. I’m not saying that doing this will get you promoted, but it can’t hurt.
- Visibility: When you suggest having your company participate, your chances of getting “yes” for an answer are much better if you also volunteer to help with the organization. That in turn will get you known and noticed in a wider part of your company, which is usually a good thing for your career.
- Fun: Yes, it will be a small amount of extra work, but sometimes a break from your daily routine makes the workday a bit easier, and this is probably quite different from what you normally do.
- In 2010 I had only been working at my new job for a couple of days on the date of the drill, so I simply told my boss about it and about a dozen of us in our workgroup practiced getting under our desks. That was it, nothing more, but it broke the ice.
- In 2011 I approached one of the officers of the company a few weeks ahead of time, offering to do most of the work, and he readily agreed. (The fact that he was CFO and this cost the company almost nothing probably helped.) It really wasn’t much work: print out a few posters for the company break-room, write a couple of emails to be sent out to all employees in our building, and walk around reminding people when it was time for the drill. Pretty easy stuff.
- In 2012 our company had grown enough to have an HR director, so I asked her if we should continue participating, if she’d like my help, and if we could perhaps do a bit more this year. The answer that came back was “yes, yes, and yes.” I’ll let you know how it goes.
Of course if your concern is the home or school environment, then the reason for participating is obvious: Keeping your family safe. Either way, I encourage you to participate to whatever level you’re comfortable with, but please at least read the web page and do the 60-second drill either at home or at work.