Schools, government offices, businesses take part in statewide quake drill

RIVERSIDE – Activity in government offices, businesses and schools will come to a halt for one minute today as people “drop, cover and hold on” during a statewide earthquake preparedness drill.

The Great California ShakeOut of 2017 is scheduled for 10:19 a.m.

“ShakeOut Day is a day of individual and community events featuring the largest earthquake drill ever, organized to inspire others to get ready for big earthquakes and to prevent disasters from becoming catastrophes,” according to a statement posted to www.ShakeOut.org . “What we do to prepare now, before the next big earthquake, will determine how well we can survive and recover.”

Organizers said the exercise will provide an opportunity for workers in the public and private sectors, school children, families and others to practice simple steps to improve safety in the event of a major quake.

The ShakeOut website indicates that 10.2 million Californians are slated to participate in the drill. Last year, the figure reached roughly 10.6 million. The drills began in 2008.

In Riverside County, 680,450 people have registered to participate, about 16,000 more than the total number registered last year.

Municipalities on the list include Canyon Lake, Corona, Hemet, Moreno Valley, Murrieta, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Riverside, Temecula and Wildomar.

A number of county agencies are also signed up, including the Department of Public Social Services, the Flood Control & Water Conservation District and sheriff’s stations in Lake Elsinore, Palm Desert and Perris.

UC Riverside and the Riverside Community College District campuses, as well as La Sierra University and the Mt. San Jacinto Community College District, will join the drill.

Among K-12 schools, the Beaumont, Coachella Valley, Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Murrieta Valley and Temecula Valley unified school districts and several dozen other districts, private and charter schools will also have students and staff participating.

According to ShakeOut.org, the objective is to emphasize precautions during a 7.8-magnitude or larger quake along the southernmost line of the San Andreas fault.

Officials say that such a tectonic shift could 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. The cataclysm 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 quake, according to the USGS.

Californians should be prepared to be self-sufficient for 72 hours following a 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, according to local and state officials.

Homeowners and renters should also know how to turn off the gas where they live in case of leaks.

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