Preparing for "the big one" is the goal of a statewide earthquake drill today, 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.
ShakeOut organizers say that under a big 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.
"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 in today's event, 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.
In a ongoing effort to raise public awareness to plan and prepare for the occurrence of a catastrophic disaster event such as a major earthquake, on Oct. 20 the City of Lake Elsinore and its volunteer Citizen Corps organization will also be presenting the 3rd annual SHAKE OUT EXPO from noon to 5 p.m. at Lake Point Recreation Park facility.
The SHAKE OUT EXPO, a free “fun-festival” like public event, is designed to communicate through live presentations, hands on interactive demonstrations and exhibitions for personal emergency disaster planning and preparedness, organizers say.
The event’s central interactive attraction is the “The Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety” hosted by local Community Emergency Response Team volunteers, which walks SHAKE OUT EXPO guests through emergency preparedness practices in a family fun way. Completing the Seven Steps enters guests in the Expo’s hourly prize drawing for emergency equipment and supplies.
Locally based emergency response organizations such as the CERT Ham Radio Operators from Golden Triangle Radio Club along with Cal Fire will be on hand at the SHAKE OUT EXPO to demonstrate and share their planning knowledge in emergency preparedness as well as answer questions on what the public should expect from first responders "not if, but when disaster strikes."
Regional utility Southern California Edison will also be passing on information on what actions they will be taking on customers’ behalf during a catastrophic event.
Also participating at the SHAKE OUT EXPO will be a select group of safety and emergency preparedness suppliers and manufactures to demonstrate the latest in emergency tools, supplies and technologies.
For more information and activity updates on the Lake Elsinore 2012 SHAKE OUT EXPO, visit the Lake Elsinore Citizen Corps website at: www.lakeelsinorecc.org or contact John Larsen, Volunteer Lake Elsinore Citizen Corps at 951-249-2547 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Sponsor & Vendor Information Contact Helen Jeong at 951-442-5875 or email@example.com.
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. --City News Service and Patch Staff contributed to this report.