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Earthquake drill is at 10:18 a.m. today

LOS ANGELES – Get ready to rumble. Millions in the United States and several other nations are set to participate in an earthquake preparedness drill Thursday.

Dubbed the “Great ShakeOut,” homeowners, schoolchildren and office workers will practice dropping to the ground, covering their heads and holding on to something sturdy – a technique that experts say minimizes injuries during strong shaking.

Today’s drill is mainly for the U.S. West and Southeast. Residents in Canada, Italy, Puerto Rico and Guam also signed up for the exercise.

Organizers estimated about 14 million people, including 9.3 million in California, will participate.

In Los Angeles, commuters at Union Station will be asked to duck and take cover. Subways and light-rail trains will slow down so that operators can visually inspect the tracks – a process that’s expected to take 15 minutes. In an actual quake, trains can be stopped.

Southern California held the first safety drill in 2008 based on a fictional magnitude-7.8 event on the southern San Andreas Fault. The entire state participated the following year and the exercise has since spread around the world.

“It’s not looking at earthquakes as doom and gloom,” said organizer Mark Benthien. “It’s all about what we’re going to do as a community to be prepared so that when there’s an earthquake, we’ll get back on our feet and recover.”

The next official shakeout drill for the region that includes Indiana is scheduled for 10:15.m. on Feb. 7.

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