SAN DIEGO (CNS/CBS 8) - Experts say the next big one is coming. It's just a matter of when. San Diegans, along with the rest of the state, took part Thursday in an emergency exercise to prepare for a massive earthquake.
Statewide, more than 10.2 million people participated in the "Great California ShakeOut" Thursday morning. The list included 12 of San Diego County's 18 municipalities, along with the county, the Port of San Diego, and several of the county's universities, colleges and public schools.
According to ShakeOut.org, San Diego County residents are more susceptible to earthquake damage than most think. The San Andreas Fault and the San Jacinto Fault are more than 60 miles away from the more populated parts of the county, but officials said San Diegans should also be concerned about a major fault called Rose Canyon that cuts through downtown San Diego, through the center of San Diego Bay and north along the coast.
The Rose Canyon Fault is the only major active earthquake fault in the urban San Diego area, but has not produced a major earthquake since before European settlers arrived in the area, according to ShakeOut.org. However, a major quake along the fault could result in devastation that could put the entire area on hold for months or even years.
"In San Diego County, wildfires are our biggest risk but earthquakes are also a hazard. Everyone should know what to do during an earthquake to avoid injuries or worse," said Assistant Director Stephen Rea of the county's ?Office of Emergency Services?. "Most of the recommended disaster preparedness steps such as collecting water and non-perishable food are the same for an earthquake as they are for a wildfire or any disaster where you might have to survive on your own without electricity, gas or running water."
If a major temblor struck, county officials said those affected should look for the nearest, safest place to take cover -- like under a sturdy table or desk -- and protect their heads from falling items or breaking glass. An interior wall away from windows, overhead fixtures, wall hangings or furniture that could topple over may also suffice until the shaking stops.
County officials noted that building collapses are not likely in San Diego County or in other parts of the country, so running outside is not the safest option. While running, a person could be hit by falling electrical lines, tree branches or building facades.
Those already outside when a quake strikes should move away from buildings, trees and overhead power lines, then to drop and cover their heads.
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