Millions of residents in the Southland and across California are expected to “drop, cover and hold on” today as part of an annual earthquake preparedness drill aimed at ensuring people are ready for the “big one.”
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, more than 40 million people from 60 countries around the world are also expected to participate in earthquake drills.
In Los Angeles County, nearly 3.5 million people have registered to take part in the “Great California ShakeOut” this morning. About 10.4 million people have registered to take part in the drill statewide, including nearly 1 million in Orange County, according to ShakeOut.org.
At 10:15 a.m., participants will “drop” to the ground, take “cover” under a desk, table or other sturdy surface and “hold on” for 60 seconds, as if a major earthquake were occurring.
Participants are also asked to look around during the drill and envision what might be occurring in an actual quake — what objects might be falling, what damage could be occurring and will there be a way to escape the area afterward.
U.S. Geological Survey officials said that people who are outdoors should move to a “clear and open” area, avoiding power lines, trees, signs, buildings and other items that can fall. Motorists should pull to the side of the road and set the parking brake — but not beneath bridges, power lines or traffic signs.
“All Californians know that we live in earthquake country, but many of us have not experienced a damaging earthquake, such as young people or those that have moved to the region in recent years,” according to ShakeOut.org. “Understanding the risks and preparing to survive and recover can help keep your family safe.”
The website also notes that while the San Andreas fault could trigger large-scale earthquakes, up to magnitude-8, “there are over 100 other active faults in the region that can produce smaller earthquakes like the 1995 Northridge earthquake. If you live in Southern California, one of more of these faults is probably near you.”
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, some 2,000 people would die, tens of thousands would be injured and more than $200 billion in damage would result from a magnitude-7.8 or larger quake, which would have 50 times the intensity of the Jan. 17, 1994, Northridge earthquake.
Hundreds of aftershocks would follow, a few of them nearly as big as the original event, according to the USGS.
Californians should be prepared to be self-sufficient for 72 hours following an earthquake or other major disaster, officials say. That includes having a first-aid kit, medications, food and enough water for each member of a household to drink one gallon per day for at least 72 hours, according to local and state officials.
Homeowners and renters should also know how to turn off the gas in their house or apartment in case of leaks.
Government workers and students are among those expected to take part in the drill.