Earthquake drill takes place


Local government officials, hospital workers, schools, businesses and residents across San Diego County will take part today in an earthquake drill aimed at ensuring people are prepared for a magnitude-7.8 temblor along the San Andreas Fault.

An estimated 5.2 million people throughout Southern California are expected to participate in the Great Southern California ShakeOut drill, which is billed as the largest ever undertaken in the United States. The drill is intended to show Californians what they need to do to prepare for a major disaster and test the capabilities of local and state agencies.

Under the scenario, 1,800 people will die in the quake, 53,000 people will be injured, 1,500 buildings will collapse and $213 billion in damage will result from the temblor, which would be 50 times more intense than the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

The simulation also assumes there will be 1,600 fires. Fire departments throughout the region will participate in response drills, including simulated events in which multiple people are injured, a building has collapsed, a hazardous materials situation has developed and fires have broken out in areas where responders have little or no water.

In the ShakeOut simulation, which will begin at 10 a.m., the hypothetical earthquake will start on the San Andreas Fault at Bombay Beach, northeast of the Salton Sea. The earthquake would travel through the Cajon Pass, severing the Ontario (15) Freeway, bending rail lines, breaking pipelines and electrical transmission lines and causing explosions and landslides, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

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, and keep sturdy shoes near their bed or in their car.