LA MIRADA (AP) — Millions of people plan to drop, cover and hold on in a drill today to prepare communities in California and elsewhere for the next big earthquake.
More than 10 million Californians signed up to participate at 10:16 a.m, in addition to another 15 million people this year in dozens of states and countries including Italy and Canada, according to organizers.
A full-scale exercise for emergency responders to prepare for a potential magnitude-6.7 earthquake will also be held at Biola University in La Mirada. The suburb southeast of Los Angeles was rattled by a magnitude-5.1 earthquake in March.
The annual drill began in 2008 in California. Here’s more on the Great ShakeOut and how Californians can prepare for an earthquake:
• DROP, COVER, HOLD ON: The best way for residents to survive an earthquake is not to start running, said Ken Kondo, emergency program manager at the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management. The key is to drop, seek cover under a table and hold on to avoid being thrown or struck by falling debris, he said. Kondo added that residents who ran fleeing their homes in a recent Northern California earthquake injured their feet while running over broken glass. Residents should keep an emergency kit with a flashlight, batteries, radio and covered shoes under the bed, he said.
• SIMULATED RESPONSE: In past years, organizers have carried out the full-scale exercise at an elementary school, train station and medical center. A university campus presents a distinct challenge because students who hail from less earthquake-prone regions may not know what to do, Kondo said. At Biola University, two dozen students will act as victims in a simulated disaster scene. Emergency responders and health specialists will treat the victims much as they would when a real earthquake hits, said Brenda Velasco, a university spokeswoman.
• MAJOR EARTHQUAKES: California has not suffered a devastating quake since the 1994 Northridge disaster that killed 60 people and injured more than 7,000 in metropolitan Los Angeles. In 1989, a magnitude-6.9 earthquake in the San Francisco Bay region killed 63 people, injured nearly 3,800 and caused up to $10 billion in damage.
• INJURIES AND DAMAGE: A magnitude-6.0 earthquake struck Napa Valley earlier this year. One woman suffered a head injury and later died and scores of people were injured. In Southern California, buildings damaged in the March earthquake are still being repaired. Brea’s City Hall has undergone $350,000 in repairs while fixes still need to be made to local schools, said Anna Cave, the city’s emergency preparedness coordinator.