Desensitization due to drills

We’ve all gone through the process of evacuating classrooms and filing out onto the field as staff members run through safety checks. Of course, there is always the boredom and annoyance of standing or sitting on the damp grass, but that is not to say the earthquake drill is a complete waste of time. Given the daunting report by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2008 that California has more than a 99 percent chance of experiencing a large earthquake within 30 years, we should definitely be conscientious about the precautionary measures.

Coincidentally or not, the Great California ShakeOut drill was implemented in schools starting 2008 as an annual refresher on emergency preparedness. “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” has become an epigram implanted into our brains since elementary school. Despite its monotonous repetition, it has successfully raised awareness and educated us how to protect ourselves in the case of disaster.

Unfortunately, students often fail to treat the drill seriously. Admittedly, students do view earthquakes as genuine threats, but this serious outlook is not adequately reflected in their actions. There are many who do not stay in line, bring their homework with them to do or drift away to chat with friends. Although teachers may enforce the rules, our mentality is what makes-or-breaks the effectiveness of the drill. If we do not take the initiative to pay attention and remember how to act during training, we will take away nothing from this practice; it will just be a pure waste of class time and energy.

In addition to conducting drills, the school can further prepare its students and staff by providing detailed disaster procedures and locations of emergency supplies. Similar to systems in elementary and middle schools, it should also consider allowing students to bring their own emergency kit and store it in a safe place.

As Californians, we have a constant risk that comes with living along the San Andreas Fault. Therefore, overlooking precautionary measures or the importance of drills is detrimental to our preparedness. Although we may think that large earthquakes, though dangerous, are unlikely to strike, the truth is that they are closer to us than we think – and the best way to prepare is through meticulous practice.

By Caroline Huang, Media Manager
Editorial cartoon by Isabella Leung