5.2 million people prepare for the Big One
At 10 a.m. Thursday, an estimated 5.2 million people around Southern California will drop to the ground, roll under the nearest table and spend the next two minutes clutching a table leg.
The drill is the centerpiece of the Great Southern California ShakeOut, a weeklong collection of events designed to educate and remind the public about how to respond to a large earthquake.
Organizers say such reminders are important since the 22 million people who live and work in Southern California haven't experienced a major earthquake since 1994.
Emergency responders don't save the majority of lives in earthquakes, experts say.
"Ninety-five percent of all victims are rescued by other victims," said earthquake scientist Lucy Jones, who is coordinating the U.S. Geological Survey's Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project. As part of the ShakeOut, about 300 scientists, engineers and economists recently mapped out a disaster scenario in which a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, originating near the Salton Sea, would strike Southern California, with shocks north and west along the San Andreas Fault -- and leave Los Angeles without water, power or navigable freeways.
Photo: 1933 Long Beach quake. Credit: File photo