L.A. Earthquake: Get Ready!

A Massive Earthquake Hits California!

Are YOU prepared? Let the Great California Shakeout help you get ready!

The Los Angeles Earthquake: Get Ready campaign uses public theater, spectacle, simulation and great design to encourage Angelinos to prepare themselves for a major earthquake. The Norman Lear Center joined with the Art Center College of Design in its effort to utilize the tools of entertainment education for a public disaster preparedness campaign. The Get Ready campaign was carried out during the Great Southern California ShakeOut, the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history, in November 2008. Ultimately, almost 5.5 million Southern Californians simultaneously responded to the imagined impact of a 7.8 earthquake. Schools, businesses and government agencies across Southern California staged evacuations, search and rescue simulations, and medical triage — complete with stage make-up, fake injuries and fast-changing disaster scenarios.

The 2018 Drill was on October 18, 2018

In order to evaluate the impact of the multimedia campaign and the Drill, the Lear Center won a grant from the Innovation Fund at the Annenberg School for Communication. The first report released in September 2009, found that the ShakeOut was very successful at creating an abiding interest in earthquake preparedness. The dramatic and social aspects of this event no doubt contributed to its visibility and viability as a method to mobilize personal and public action. One month after the ShakeOut, an astonishing 97% of respondents said they would participate in an annual drill. In September 2009, the California State Senate passed a resolution to support annual statewide drills that will be held on the third Thursday of October each year.

Ever since the San Francisco quake in 1906, Californians have known that they lived in earthquake country. And ever since then state and local governments, public health officials and voluntary groups have conducted disaster preparedness campaigns to help Californians get ready for an inevitable catastrophic quake. However despite ongoing efforts to encourage households, businesses, schools, organizations and individuals to prepare, rates of preparedness have been stagnant over the past decade.

In 2006, the Norman Lear Center partnered with Art Center College of Design in its effort to develop an innovative public safety campaign. Bringing together a unique mix of designers, researchers, and earthquake experts, The Los Angeles Earthquake: Get Ready campaign sought to measurably increase earthquake preparedness throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. The Get Ready effort was designed to work in tandem with the Great Southern California ShakeOut, a series of earthquake related events, including the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history.

As a partner in the Get Ready campaign, the Lear Center contributed its expertise in using media outreach and public spectacle for the purpose of civic engagement. Lear Center Director Marty Kaplan also developed a comic book about earthquake denial that was included in The L.A. Earthquake Sourcebook. In cooperation with the Earthquake Country Alliance, which organized the ShakeOut events, the Lear Center conducted an evaluation of the impact of the earthquake drill on those who signed up to participate.

The effort serves as a model for future public disaster campaigns that utilize new design methodologies and effectively mobilize the media.

Key Activities

The first Great Southern California ShakeOut included a week’s worth of activities (November 12 through 18, 2008) including:

THE DRILL  The signature ShakeOut event was the nation’s largest earthquake drill, which included over five million participants, or one in four residents of southern California.

L.A. EARTHQUAKE: GET READY RALLY  Held at the Nokia Plaza in downtown Los Angeles, the Rally featured earthquake preparedness information, presentations by state and regional leaders, vendors, food and live entertainment.

AFTER SHOCK   This three week long online interactive simulation allowed participants to imagine how they might respond to a major earthquake. Art Center Aftershock Press Kit.

LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL EARTHQUAKE CONFERENCE  More than 400 international disaster response experts, policy makers and academics gathered to share information about earthquake preparedness, response and recovery.