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OC HIGH: STUDENT NEWS AND VIEWS : Ready to Roll? : Disaster drills could save lives, but who takes them seriously? You can't duck reality forever.

November 25, 1994|EVE WINNICK | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Eve Winnick is a junior at Loara High School in Anaheim.

Crash. Bang. The lights are clanging and the school roof is caving in. The floor splits apart, leaving a hole to the center of the Earth.

But, being the earthquake-prepared students we are, we know exactly what to do.

Duck and cover (under those roomy desks) until we feel we are no longer in any danger.

Then, of course, we will file out the door in a neat, orderly fashion, being polite and considerate to all those in front of us along the way.

Even with an injured limb dangling from her side, Jane waits her turn before leaving. With his trusty dog Spot, Dick volunteers to carry the unconscious carefully to safety. And we all live happily ever after.

Right? Wrong! It's time for a reality check.

You'd think, living in California, that we would be totally prepared for the Big One. But it doesn't look that way.

Shouldn't earthquake drills at school happen unexpectedly? After all, that's how earthquakes arrive. Instead, school drills are often announced beforehand. Sometimes, teachers tell students not only the day, but the exact moment the drill will take place. It seems students are only reminded of disaster procedure on days that drills are held. And even then it's a joke. Who takes these things seriously? What if something disastrous were to happen? Then what?

During past disaster drills, teachers have told students to duck and cover (something they often don't do themselves). Most desks are so small, we're lucky if we fit an arm or leg underneath. (And once we get under, what do we find? A rainbow of chewing gum above our heads. Now that's gross!)

If schools must have earthquake drills, it would be better if they were unannounced and a little more organized.

From what I've seen, it looks as if students will probably panic come the day of a disaster. Most students won't worry about whether they are reporting to the proper area. Chances are, rather than staying at school as they are supposed to, they will fear for their lives and move as far away from campus as possible! Wouldn't you?

Maybe taking a few steps to make students more aware of the importance of safety during a disaster will change earthquake drills from empty exercises into meaningful training.

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