One week from Thursday, people in government offices, businesses and schools throughout Riverside County will stop everything for a minute to “drop, cover and hold on” during a statewide earthquake preparedness drill, now in its 11th year.
The Great ShakeOut of 2019 is scheduled for 10:17 a.m. on Oct. 17.
“Damaging earthquakes … can occur at any time wherever we work, live or travel within the region and beyond,” according to a statement posted to ShakeOut.org. “Everyone, everywhere should know how to protect themselves from an earthquake.”
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, as well as think about the financial implications and other consequences of a damaging quake.
This year’s drill may be more impactful in Southern California, with memories of the July 4 and 5 quakes that struck Ridgecrest still fresh. The magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 shakers caused significant damage to roads and structures in the hamlet, which lies just south of the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station.
The ShakeOut website indicated that, to date, 9.5 million Californians are slated to participate in the drill. Last year, a total 10.3 million registered. Exercises began in 2008.
In Riverside County, 612,666 people have registered to participate so far.
Municipalities on the list include Coachella, Corona, Eastvale, Indio, Norco, Rancho Mirage, Riverside and Temecula.
A number of Riverside County agencies are also signed up, including the Department of Public Social Services, Department of Probation, the Flood Control & Water Conservation District, the Fire Department and the Sheriff’s Department.
UC Riverside, College of the Desert, Norco College, Riverside City College and the Mt. San Jacinto Community College District will join the drill, too.
Most K-12 school districts countywide, along with private and charter schools, will have students and staff participating.
According to ShakeOut.org, the objective is to emphasize precautions during a magnitude 7.8 or larger quake along the southernmost portion 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 ensue — 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 in their residences in case of leaks.