Millions of Southland residents and millions more across California are expected to "drop, cover and hold on" Thursday as part of an annual earthquake preparedness drill aimed at ensuring people are ready for the "big one."
Nearly 2.9 million people in Los Angeles County have registered to take part in the fifth annual "Great California Shakeout," which is scheduled for 10:18 a.m., simulating a magnitude-7.8 or larger quake along the southernmost area of the San Andreas fault.
About 9.3 million people have registered to take part in the drill statewide, according to ShakeOut.org.
At 10:18 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 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.
Government workers and students are among those expected to take part in the drill.
"Participating in the Great ShakeOut drill is a great way for your family or company to think about a plan on how to prepare for big earthquakes," Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster said. "This annual drill reminds us that we should all be ready no matter where you are when an earthquake hits—at home, school or work."
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.