LOS ANGELES — Millions of Southland residents and millions more across the state and around the world practiced their “drop, cover and hold on” skills Oct. 20 as part of an annual earthquake preparedness drill aimed at ensuring people are ready for the “big one.”
More than 3.5 million people in Los Angeles County registered to take part in the “Great California ShakeOut,” which took place at 10:20 a.m. About 10.6 million people registered to take part in the drill statewide, including nearly 1 million in Orange County, according to ShakeOut.org.
At 10:20 a.m., participants followed instructions 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.
Participants were also asked to look around during the drill and envision what might be occurring during an actual quake — what objects might be falling, what damage could be occurring and will there be a way to escape the area afterward.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the drill is an important exercise, because a large earthquake is inevitable.
“We just have to be prepared, and our city is taking proactive steps to save lives and property,” he said. “Last year I signed into law the strongest earthquake safety measures in America. We’re making buildings and infrastructure more secure, fortifying our water system and creating new partnerships in telecom, transportation and disaster response to make all of our communities more resilient.”
In the event of a large quake, U.S. Geological Survey officials say 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,” a statement posted at ShakeOut.org said.
“Understanding the risks and preparing to survive and recover can help keep your family safe.”
The website also noted that while the San Andreas Fault could generate a large-scale earthquake, up to magnitude-8, “there are over a hundred other active faults in the region that can produce smaller earthquakes” like the Northridge quake in 1994.
“If you live in Southern California, one or more of these faults is probably near you.”
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, about 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.
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.