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Preparing for a "Big One": The great southern California shakeout

January 1, 2011

The Great Southern California ShakeOut was a week of special events featuring the largest earthquake drill in United States history. On November 13, 2008, over 5 million Southern Californians pretended that the magnitude-7.8 ShakeOut scenario earthquake was occurring and practiced actions derived from results of the ShakeOut Scenario, to reduce the impact of a real, San Andreas Fault event. The communications campaign was based on four principles: 1) consistent messaging from multiple sources; 2) visual reinforcement: 3) encouragement of “milling”; and 4) focus on concrete actions. The goals of the ShakeOut established in Spring 2008 were: 1) to register 5 million people to participate in the drill; 2) to change the culture of earthquake preparedness in Southern California; and 3) to reduce earthquake losses in Southern California. Over 90% of the registrants surveyed the next year reported improvement in earthquake preparedness at their organization as a result of the ShakeOut.