Californians conduct annual earthquake safety drill

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Millions to Take Part in Great California Shakeout

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- California conducted its annual "drop, cover, and hold on" drill to teach citizens how to protect themselves while an earthquake is occurring.

More than 10 million residents of the earthquake-prone state signed up to participate in the 2015 Great California ShakeOut, an event that began in 2008, organizers said. All were to scramble under desks or tables during a simulated temblor at 10:15 a.m.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined in during radio station KNX's live "Ask the Mayor" segment. "Things that are falling will kill you," Garcetti said in urging people to join the drill.

Schools and universities account for most of the participants in the simultaneous disaster drill, organized by the Earthquake Country Alliance, that has spread well beyond California to many other states and countries. In Washington state, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell participated Thursday in a Great Washington ShakeOut drill in Oso, the site of a deadly landslide last year.

For many, the exercise just consists of dropping and covering under desks as generations of California schoolchildren have done. But the Shakeout is designed to simulate more coordinated and widespread action.

See photos from the drill:

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2015 ShakeOut Earthquake Drill
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Californians conduct annual earthquake safety drill
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 15: USC Cinema students take cover under their desks during an earthquake drill on October 15, 2015 in Los Angeles California. Students joined 21.5 million people worldwide who took part in safety drills and aftermath and recovery exercises in observance of the eighth annual Great ShakeOut. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 15: USC Cinema students take cover under their desks during an earthquake drill on October 15, 2015 in Los Angeles California. Students joined 21.5 million people worldwide who took part in safety drills and aftermath and recovery exercises in observance of the eighth annual Great ShakeOut. (Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell stands in view of a now-barren hillside where 43 people were killed in a landslide over a year earlier, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in Oso, Wash. Jewell was in the area to view for the first time the devastation caused by the landslide off Highway 530 and to participate in a statewide Great Shakeout earthquake drill with school children from nearby Darrington, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seventh grader Amanda Brown is surrounded by classmates congratulating her after finishing a rap song about what to do in an earthquake as Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, left, comes forward to high-five her following an earthquake drill as part of a statewide Great Shakeout drill at the Oso firehouse Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in Oso, Wash. Jewell was in the area to view for the first time the devastation caused by last year's landslide off Highway 530 and to participate in the drill with school children from nearby Darrington, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, center left, heads under a table as Rep. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., dives under another during an earthquake drill as part of a statewide Great ShakeOut drill at the Oso firehouse Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in Oso, Wash. Jewell was in the area to view for the first time the devastation caused by last year's landslide off Highway 530 and to participate in the drill with school children from nearby Darrington, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
From New Zealand, to the West Coast @USC, and to @CraigatFEMA in DC, over 22 million joined in #ShakeOut today! http://t.co/R7sSX5ssHc
Joined students at Yick Wo Elementary for #ShakeOut earthquake drill. Get prepared! http://t.co/SuGXzgwkHP @SF72org http://t.co/wXNsjjZlp3
A big thank you to everyone who participated in the worlds largest earthquake drill today! #ShakeOut 👏👏 http://t.co/J9enaN9IFg
Did you participate in the #ShakeOut? Drop, cover and hold on during earthquakes to protect yourself and family! http://t.co/fSKPyEjgVz
#ShakeOut We're prepared to assist engineers from @LAPublicWorks with rapid aerial inspections of dams and bridges http://t.co/8H3O7oiQpX
Drop! Cover! Hold on! Be part of ShakeOut today and practice earthquake preparedness. http://t.co/VGEEc9Y3S6 http://t.co/JrZ4w9Fw2k
VCOE employees take part in the Great California #ShakeOut earthquake drill. http://t.co/VQrFCnepXb
A big thank you to everyone who participated in the worlds largest earthquake drill today! #ShakeOut 👏👏 http://t.co/J9enaN9IFg
From New Zealand, to the West Coast @USC, and to @CraigatFEMA in DC, over 22 million joined in #ShakeOut today! http://t.co/R7sSX5ssHc
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On some school campuses, student act out roles as earthquake victims, as health care professionals assess and treat them, setting up a triage area and assigning them different levels of injuries.

Organizers have carried out similar exercises at train stations and hospitals.

California has small earthquakes daily, such as a cluster occurring this week under cities east of San Francisco. The drill, however, seeks to prepare citizens for the sort of devastating quake the state hasn't seen in decades.

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.

When the first drill was planned in 2008, organizers based it on a scenario of a magnitude-7.8 earthquake on the southern section of the mighty San Andreas Fault, the type of quake that experts say will happen although they can't say when. An earthquake of that size would cause shaking for nearly two minutes.

Experts said such a quake would inflict vastly more damage than the Northridge quake and cause more than 1,800 deaths and 50,000 injuries.

Drill organizers include the Southern California Earthquake Center, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, among others.


Read more stories about earthquakes:
Expert debunks myths about what to do during an earthquake
Series of small earthquakes recorded in northern Oklahoma​
Los Angeles orders quake retrofit for many older buildings
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