10/18/2012 08:52 EDT | Updated 12/18/2012 05:12 EST

BC Earthquake Drill Prepares Province For The Big One

AP File
FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2009 file photo, children participate in the "Great California ShakeOut" earthquake drill at the Para Los Ninos Elementary School in Los Angeles. Millions in the United States and several countries are set to participate in an earthquake preparedness drill, dubbed the “Great ShakeOut," Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
VANCOUVER - Another year has passed without the Big One hitting the West Coast, and that's why organizers of the country's largest earthquake drill say it's more necessary than ever.

This year's Great B.C. ShakeOut drill is slated for 10:18 a.m. local time today, and more than 570,000 people are registered to participate.

When the clock strikes, participants are instructed to drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy desk or table and hold on — for about 60 seconds.

That's the same procedure organizers preach every year, saying it will protect people in the event of a real natural disaster — and that's important, because seismologists contend a major shaker in the region is overdue.

Experts say a massive quake occurs about every 300 or so years, and that's why millions more people are also participating in similar drills today including in California, Nevada, Oregon and even Guam.

Several minor quakes have rattled B.C. this year, including parts of Vancouver Island in late August, April and February and in the Okanagan Valley last November.

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