Californians prepare for earthquake with annual Great ShakeOut drill

EXPOSITION PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Millions of Californians participated Thursday in the Great ShakeOut, a yearly disaster response earthquake drill.

Schools and universities accounted for most of the participants in the simultaneous disaster drill, which began in 2008 and has begun to spread beyond the state.

"The Great ShakeOut earthquake drills are happening around the world today. We have 22 million people practicing how to be safe during an earthquake, how to drop, cover and hold on," said Mark Benthien with the SoCal Earthquake Center.

Organizers say more than 10 million Californians were slated to take part in the drill at 10:15 a.m. They advised people to have emergency kits at home and your car - anywhere you're spending more than four hours a day.

The kit should include food, water, first aid, hygiene and sanitation supplies. Another tip - keep a good pair of tennis shoes in your car in case you have to walk home.

At home, make sure to secure top-heavy furniture so they don't topple over during an earthquake. Also, have an evacuation plan.

The drill mostly consisted of dropping and covering under desks as generations of California schoolchildren have done. However, the Great Shakeout is designed to simulate more coordinated and widespread action.

USC held a full-scale earthquake drill. On campus, search-and-rescue teams honed their skills by setting up realistic demonstrations. Actors aided by life-like makeup played victims of a simulated earthquake.

While all of it was staged, experts hope the drills and reminders get folks prepared for the sort of devastating quake California hasn't seen in more than two decades

"The longer we go without those, we are going to have one of those soon. It can be starting right now," Benthien said.

The last was the 1994 Northridge disaster that killed 60 people and injured more than 7,000 in metropolitan Los Angeles.

In Northern California 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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