Grade 7 students Taylor Lezard (right) and Jordyn Hamilton of Skaha Lake Middle School find safe locations during the earthquake drill at the school Thursday morning.

Grade 7 students Taylor Lezard (right) and Jordyn Hamilton of Skaha Lake Middle School find safe locations during the earthquake drill at the school Thursday morning.

Penticton preps for the big shake

More than 3,600 students in the region were expected to drop, cover and hold on as part of a province-wide earthquake drill on Thursday.

More than 3,600 students in the region were expected to drop, cover and hold on as part of a province-wide earthquake drill on Thursday.

The fourth annual Great B.C. Shakeout saw participants from schools, plus a handful of businesses and government agencies, collectively shelter themselves from the pretend big one at 10:17 a.m. or thereabouts.

KVR Middle School principal Steve DeVito bumped his exercise back a bit to work around recess for his 460 students.

“I guess the reason why we choose to participate in the organized Shakeout is that it opens the door for conversation in the classrooms around the importance of being prepared and the potential for an actual earthquake,” he said.

“We emphasize the seriousness of these activities and teachers take the opportunity to go over protocols, including evacuation of the building.”

Skaha Lake Middle School principal Dave Brunelle hit the alarm around 9 a.m.

A rumbling sound was played over the public address system, which chased 360 students under their desks. After one minute, they filed outside for roll call.

Each year, institutions within the Okanagan Skaha School District are required to hold multiple fire, lockdown and earthquake drills, all of which reinforce emergency procedures.

“This is not an area where you get earthquakes very often, but we’ve seen other situations take place where we’re really happy we’ve done the drill,” said Brunelle.

The Shakeout is organized by the B.C. government with help from partners such as the Insurance Bureau of Canada, and coincides with others in the U.S. and overseas.

A total of 670,000 people were registered to participate in B.C., according to the event website, but just 3,778 within the area covered by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.

Of the local total, 3,612 were from schools.

Shakeout organizer Miranda Myles confirmed that participation in the B.C. Interior is less than in coastal regions, but noted it’s equally important here.

“While no areas of B.C. are immune to earthquakes, there are different levels of risk in different areas of the province.

“The entire province of B.C. is in a highly active seismic region of the world,” Myles said in a statement.

There have been 11 earthquakes within 100 kilometres of Penticton in the past year, according to an online database maintained by Natural Resources Canada.

The closest quakes, all seven km from the city, were recorded over a 18-day span in May.

Among that trio, the most significant was a 1.9 magnitude event.

The strongest shaker during the past year was a 2.2 magnitude quake that struck at 3:46 a.m. on Feb. 4 about 62 km south of Penticton.

In the event of an earthquake

Before shaking starts:

— Prepare by knowing safe spots in each room: against inside walls, under sturdy tables and desks or archways

— Know how to shut off gas, water and electricity

— Keep heavy objects on bottom shelves and secure tall, heavy furniture and hanging objects

— Maintain an emergency kit with food, water, first-aid supplies, flashlight, radio and batteries

During earthquake:

— If indoors, stay there

— Drop, cover and hold on by getting under a table or desk and hanging onto it

— If outdoors, get into an open area away from trees, buildings, walls and power lines

— If driving, pull your car to the side of the road and stop, but avoid overpasses and power lines

After the shaking:

— Stay calm and check for injuries, render first aid if qualified

— Check for fires, gas and water leaks, and damaged electrical equipment and sewer lines

— Monitor radio stations and other news sources for reports and instructions

— Be prepared for aftershocks

SOURCE: Emergency Management B.C.