Schools, hospitals, banks and other organizations have signed up to practice the survival technique known as Drop, Cover and Hold On at 10:18 a.m. in each time zone in the Great ShakeOut conceived by the U.S. Geological Survey, according to the Southern California Earthquake Center.
Rather than take shelter in a doorway or run outside, participants are being told to drop to their hands and knees, take cover under a table or desk, and hold on to it until the shaking stops.
Boise State University is using the event to test its emergency notification system. A test notice will be sent to more than 20,000 students, faculty and staff shortly before noon so as not to disrupt classes, said Kathleen Tuck, BSU spokeswoman.
Recipients will be those who have entered their email addresses or phone numbers in the BroncoAlert database. Rob Littrell, BSUs director of emergency management systems, said the test is meant to coincide with the anniversary of the Borah earthquake on Oct. 28, 1983.
A lot of Idahoans remember the Borah earthquake, Littrell said. Theres not a lot of chance for earthquakes here, but we do have them.
About 90,000 people in organizations across Idaho are scheduled to participate. That includes the Capitol Care Center, a nursing home at 8211 Ustick Road in Boise. A nearby fire station will help staff evacuate residents in a hallway that will be staged to have been damaged in an earthquake.
Weve done disaster drills before, but this is first event with the fire department and at this scale, said Eric Landaluce, the centers maintenance director.
In California, 9 million will be taking part, making it the largest simultaneous disaster-preparedness exercise in history, said Lucile Jones, a USGS seismologist.
We rarely see law-of-the-jungle panic, said Jones, whos based near Los Angeles and is a veteran of the 1994 Northridge earthquake there that killed 60 and caused $20 billion in damage. The biggest disasters tend to bring out the best in people. We tend to think the best way to prepare for the earthquake is to have the earthquake drill.
The ShakeOut, which began in 2008 in Southern California, has spread to other regions of the United States and overseas. Since then, a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011 killed at least 15,000 people.
In addition to Idaho, California and Italy, Thursdays drill will be played out in parts of Alaska, Arizona, British Columbia, Georgia, Guam, Maryland, North Carolina, Nevada, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington state, according to organizers.
Idaho Statesman staff contributed to this report.