Millions of Southland residents joined people across the state and around the world Thursday as they dropped, covered and held during the annual Great California ShakeOut Drill to practice their readiness for a major earthquake.
More than 3.6 million Los Angeles County residents registered at www.ShakeOut.org to participate in the drill, along with nearly 830,000 in Orange County. Across the country and globe, more than 10 million people were expected to take part in the exercise.
The drill was held at 10:19 a.m. -- the time reflecting the date of Oct. 19 -- with participants including students, business employees and government workers instructed to "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.
"We drill today, because it could be real tomorrow,'' Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. "All Angelenos should be individually prepared, so that everyone understands exactly what we and the people we love should do if an earthquake strikes. The city will continue taking steps to protect lives and property -- by strengthening our infrastructure and working with our partners in telecom, transportation and disaster response to create safer and more resilient communities.''
During an actual earthquake, people who are outdoors should find a clear spot away from trees, buildings and power lines, then drop, cover and hold on. People who are driving should pull over to a clear area, stop and stay seated with seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. When the quake ends, motorists should proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that may have been damaged.
ShakeOut organizers note that many Californians have not experienced a damaging earthquake, such as young people or people who have recently moved to the state. They also warned that while the San Andreas fault could generate a large-scale earthquakes, up to magnitude-8, "there are over a hundred other active faults in the region that can produce smaller earthquakes'' like the Northridge quake.
"While some areas of California are more likely to have earthquakes than others, all of California is at higher risk compared to the rest of the country. You could be anywhere when an earthquake strikes: at home, at work, at school or even on vacation.''
According to the USGS, 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.