Millions of people around the worlds — including Portland — will practice how to survive an earthquake during the Great ShakeOut Drill set for 10:17 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17.

Organizers want participants to practice the Drop, Cover and Hold On response to the first tremors of an earthquake then. That means Drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and Hold On until the shaking stops. It is the reaction recommended by many federal, state and local public safety agencies.

"Your survival depends in part on how you prepare," said Althea Rizzo, Geologic Hazards Coordinator for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, which is helping to organize this year's state drill, called the Great Oregon ShakeOut.

More than 14.5 million people in the United States and 160,000 Oregon residents participated in the ShakeOut in 2012. Many public schools are already planning to participate in this year's drill. Organizers hope individuals, businesses other organizations will take part this year, too. Oregon businesses that have registered include: Citizens Bank, Massif Mountain Gear, Medford Police Department, Pacific Power, PNGC Power, Cambia Health, Intel, Newport City Police and Willamette Valley Restoration.

"We would like to have even more participants this year," said Kim Lippert, Public Information Officer for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, which is also helping to organize the drill. "One of our areas of outreach is schools, protecting our students in the event of an earthquake is extremely important."

Such drills are especially important in Oregon, which Oregon lies at a convergent continental boundary where two tectonic plates are colliding. The Cascadia Subduction Zone is actually a 600 mile long earthquake fault stretching from offshore northern California to southern British Columbia. This fault builds up stress for hundreds of years as the Juan de Fuca and North America Plates push against each other. Eventually, the two plates rip apart, creating some of the largest earthquakes and tsunamis on earth.

According to organizers, if there isn’t a desk or desk nearby, drop to the ground in an inside corner of the building and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms. Do not try to run to another room just to get under a table. Studies of injuries and deaths caused by earthquakes in the U.S. over the last several decades indicate that you are much more likely to be injured by falling or flying objects than to die in a collapsed building.

The American Red cross Cascades Region is hosting its first-ever “Great #ShakeOut Selfie” contest. People participating in the drill are encouraged to snap a photo of themselves (aka “selfie” during the drill and to tweet the image using the hastag #ShakeOut Selfie. Participants are eligible for a variety of disaster kit items.

For more information, visit at Schools wishing to participate in the drill can register at that website. Additional information about how to survive and quickly recover from an earthquake is also available. It includes tips on preparedness planning and supplies.

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