Watch CBS News

Millions To Participate In 'Great California ShakeOut'

LOS ANGELES ( — Millions of Californians are expected to participate in an annual earthquake preparedness drill on Thursday.

It's all part of the "Great California ShakeOut," where nearly 9.3 million residents are expected to simultaneously "drop" to the ground, take "cover" and "hold on," as if a 7.8-magnitude or larger quake struck along the San Andreas Fault.

Schools, businesses, and organizations will stop whatever they're doing at 10:18 a.m. to take part in the drill.

"The Great ShakeOut drill is a great way for your family or company to think about a plan on how to prepare for big earthquakes," said Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster. "This annual drill reminds us that we should all be ready no matter where you are when an earthquake hits …at home, school or work."

When the "big one" hits, it's predicted around 2,000 would die, tens of thousands of people would be hurt and there would be more than $200 billion in damages, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Former FCC public safety official Jamie Barnett told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that cell phones could also prove useless after an unusual 5.9-magnitude quake that hit Virginia last summer jammed cell phone networks as jittery customers flooded the system.


"Actually, there wasn't damage to the cell phone system itself, it was usage," said Barnett. "Some of the companies reported there was a 500 percent increase in usage in less than a few seconds."

He said the FCC must continue to ensure emergency calls will be successfully routed through networks during any future widespread spike in cell phone usage.

U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones told KNX 1070 that residents are encouraged to be prepared for a major quake by having enough food, water, and medication, as well as secure your electrical devices to avoid any fire danger.


"Have a fire extinguisher and unplug the electronics, all your appliances and stuff, after the earthquake because fires triggered by the earthquakes is the biggest problem we've got and a large chunk of that is electrical," said Jones.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.