October 17 at 10:17 a.m. is more than just the largest earthquake drill in history, with 8.7 million Californians signed up on www.shakeout.org to "Drop, Cover and Hold On" for a full 60 seconds. It is an annual warning to prepare for the unknown.
But there is much we do know about a major earthquake in Southern California. We know what we need to do to survive one. And probably the most important thing we are told over and over is: Do not run.
Most injuries and fatalities from an earthquake occur when people run out of panic when the shaking starts. The reason "drop" is the first step is that it is important to get down before you're knocked over.
How can you train yourself against an automatic response to run out of a shaking building? By thinking of a strategy ahead of time in your mind, it prepares you for the real thing. Try a dry land warm up right now: Stand up. Drop to the ground. Stand up. Drop to the ground. You get the idea. If you're already seated, no need to stand up. Get to the ground under the table.
The real goal of the drill is to protect yourself from objects around you that do the additional damage. You cover your head and neck with your hands, get under a desk or other sturdy furniture, and you hold onto it even if the shaking causes you and the desk protecting you to move across the floor.
One of the most helpful things you can do when shaking starts is to yell out to others around you "Drop to the ground! Get under a table!" Yelling "don't run" is less preferable because it doesn't instruct others on what actually to do at first, when there's so little time. "Drop to the ground" is more proactive. Or you could simply yell out the drill, "Drop, Cover and Hold On!"
Ten more days until the drill. If it were a real earthquake and this were a prediction for it, what would you do to get ready today? Share your comments below. Our countdown series continues here until the day of ShakeOut.