San Diego

Drop, cover and hold on for California's largest earthquake drill

The Great California ShakeOut is an annual drill to promote earthquake safety. Here’s what you should know

NBC Universal, Inc.

Nearly 1 million people in government offices, businesses and schools throughout San Diego County will stop everything for a minute Thursday to "drop, cover and hold on" during a statewide earthquake preparedness drill, now in its 15th year.

The Great California ShakeOut of 2023 is scheduled for 10:19 a.m. Thursday.

"Everyone, everywhere, should know how to protect themselves during an earthquake -- at work, at school, at home, or even while traveling," according to a statement posted to "Great ShakeOut earthquake drills are a once-a-year chance for everyone to practice `drop, cover, and hold on' and learn other earthquake safety tips."

The ShakeOut website indicated that roughly 10 million Californians are slated to participate in the drill. During last year's event, about 9.5 million statewide registered to take part.

The exercises began in 2008.

In San Diego County, more than 970,000 people have registered for the drill.

Municipalities whose local government employees will be involved include Del Mar, National City, Oceanside, Imperial Beach, Santee and San Marcos, along with the county and the Port of San Diego.

California State University campuses are set to participate, along with UC San Diego, the San Diego Community College District, MiraCosta College and Palomar Community College District.

Most kindergarten through 12th grade school districts countywide, along with private and charter schools, will have students and staff participating.

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

Officials believe 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.

The drill in 2019 came just over three months after the early July quakes that struck Ridgecrest. The 6.4 and 7.1 magnitude shakers caused significant damage to roads and structures in the hamlet, which lies just south of the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station.

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.

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