Surviving the Great California Shakeout

The sounds of bells, chatter, and sirens come to mind when I think of second-period english class on October 20, 2022. Hiding under a desk and standing outside in a field full of nats and giant bugs also come to mind.

A flyer advertising this years Shakeout.
The Great Shakeout has been a tradition in California for 14 years, preparing students for earthquake disasters.

The Great California Shakeout is what it’s called, occurring every year during second period on October 20th at 10:20 am. It’s essential to do this just in case a massive earthquake happens in San Diego while in school. Although if it happened this year, I hope it’s not while I’m on the second story of the 1000 building or anywhere near it all together. Actually, I hope it doesn’t happen while I’m in school.

In summary, when it hit 10:20 am, the specific bell signal of a combination of short and long bell rings followed by an alarm saying what was happening signaled everyone that it was an earthquake and to get under the desk, where we sat for probably six minutes. 

The earthquake wasn’t even the beginning of the whole drill; even though it was a good portion, it was only getting started. Once it was clear the fake earthquake was over, preparation for the after-effects took place.

Emerging from beneath desks, students grabbed their belongings and headed towards the door to leave the post-shaken building as a precaution for the after-effects of an earthquake, such as fires,  ruined buildings, or buildings close to falling, and if close to the ocean, a possible tsunami. 

The walk to the field wasn’t far, but it did spur a few questions like “Why are we walking between buildings that could have fallen and blocked the path or be on fire” and “What would happen after we make it to the field, do I get to go home?”

san andreas fault line
The San Andreas fault line runs through California lengthwise, but it poses only moderate risk to San Diegans as it originates hundreds of miles away in the state. ( California Earthquake Authority)

Pushing those questions to the back of my mind and finally making it to the field with roll taken,  the rest of the period was social time. Conversations ranged from what if’s if the drill one day wasn’t a drill all the way, boys. 

The only thing that did make me irritated was the bugs. Fortunately, most of them weren’t going for me, but at one point, a big beetle-looking bug scared people away. 

Honestly, what was going through my mind most of the time was, “I would hate to die at school this way.” Mainly because most people were talking over the alarms giving instructions and also because I was at school, that wouldn’t be the most fantastic resting place. 

Although I hope to never experience what the Rose Canyon fault can create as it is under downtown and along the coast, at least now I know what to do.