The country’s first city-wide earthquake drill is set to take place this Thursday, September 3rd in the capital.

Tectonic activity abounds in Costa Rica. About once a month the country experiences a shake of about 4.5 magnitude, with smaller tremors being felt daily. While major quakes are rare, they do occur. In fact, the strongest earthquake on Costa Rica’s record occurred as recently as 1991 in Limon with a magnitude of 7.6. According to the USGS, it left “forty-seven people killed, 109 injured, 7,439 homeless and severe damage (IX) in the Limon-Pandora area.”

“Preparation today, lives saved tomorrow”

In hopes of avoiding a repeat incidence of what happened in Limón, the Municipal Emergency Committee, the National Commission of Risk Prevention and Emergency Response (CNE) and the Network of Emergency Committees at Workplaces have organized a large scale drill called Mi Ciudad Se Prepara, or “My City is Prepared,” in the capital city of San José.

“The initiative seeks to set an example for other cities, communities and organized groups to plan and conduct similar activities,” says CNE President Iván Brenes Reyes.

Additionally, the drill will reveal areas for improvement in current evacuation plans. As Costa Rica’s center politics, culture and commercial activities, it’s crucial San José knows how to react in case of emergency.

What To Expect

Beginning at 10am on Thursday, September 3, 2015:

  • Emergency sirens will sound.
  • Electronic highway billboards and phones (via text message) will read that a magnitude 6.5 earthquake just shook Alajuelita, San José.
  • Some streets — specifically in the districts of Hospital, Carmen, Catedral and Merced — will be temporarily closed.
  • Around 60,000 people will be evacuated from over 90 downtown buildings to “safe sites” in parking lots, sidewalks and parks.
  • The drill will last about an hour.

Participating Locations

  • The Legislative Assembly: 14 buildings
  • Asociación Solidarista de Empleados de la Caja
  • Costa Rica’s Central Bank: 2 buildings
  • Banco de Costa Rica: 6 buildings
  • Banco Nacional: 2 buildings
  • Banco Nacional’s Vital Building
  • Banco Popular: 2 buildings
  • Asociación Nacional de Educadores
  • La Caja: 7 buildings
  • Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz: 8 buildings
  • The Costa Rican Post Office
  • Clínica Bíblica Hospital: 5 buildings
  • Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE): 16 buildings
  • Instituto Nacional de Seguros: 3 buildings
  • Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Telecomunicaciones (MICITT): 2 buildings
  • Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud
  • Ministerio de Finanza: 2 buildings
  • Museo Nacional
  • The Government Attorney’s Office: 5 buildings
  • Radiográfica Costarricense S.A.: 3 buildings
  • Supreme Elections Tribunal: 3 buildings
  • Vida Plena Pension Operator
  • Walmart: 4 buildings

While most businesses and organizations already organize emergency drills with their staff and employees, this will be the first large-scale collaboration in Costa Rica.