Preparing for “the big one” is the goal of astatewide earthquake drill tomorrow, during which Riverside County government offices, businesses, schools and other organizations will stop everything for a minute so participants can “drop, cover and hold on.”
More than 600,000 people countywide have registered to take part in the fifth annual “Great California ShakeOut,” scheduled for 10:18 a.m. Statewide, there are 9.3 million registered participants, compared to 8.6 million last year, according to ShakeOut.org.
The objective is to raise awareness about precautions to take during a 7.8-magnitude or larger quake along the southernmost area of the San Andreas fault.
“Such a powerful earthquake could devastate much of Southern California,” said David Oglesby, a geophysics professor at UC Riverside. Because we live in earthquake country, everyone at UCR and in the surrounding community needs to know what to do when the ground starts shaking.”
“We need to know that trying to run outside or going to an interior doorway are both dangerous actions,” he said. “Instead, we should drop, cover, and hold on until the shaking stops, and then carefully go outside to a location at a safe distance, away from debris that may fall from buildings.”
City and county of Riverside government offices will be participating, along with offices in at least 15 municipalities.
The UCR and La Sierra University campuses will be taking part, along with nearly all community colleges and virtually every public elementary, middle and high school in the county.
Under the quake scenario, a tectonic shift would produce waves of movement for hundreds of miles, over four minutes.
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 the catastrophe, 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. 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.