Temecula students and faculty were among 9.3 million Californians who took part Thursday morning in the Great ShakeOut.
Preparing for "the big one" was the goal of a statewide earthquake drill, during which Riverside County government offices, businesses, schools and other organizations stopped everything for a minute so participants could "drop, cover and hold on."
More than 600,000 people countywide registered to take part in the fifth annual "Great California ShakeOut," which took place at 10:18 a.m. Statewide, there were 9.3 million registered participants, compared to 8.6 million last year, according to ShakeOut.org.
Participating schools in Temecula included Day Middle, Gardner Middle, Red Hawk Elementary, Vintage Hills Elementary, Chaparral High and Pauba Valley Elementary, according to Melanie Norton, spokesperson for the Temecula Valley Unified School District.
Some schools—Nicolas Valley and Temecula Middle—held drills earlier because of scheduling issues, Norton said.
The objective is to raise awareness about precautions to take during a 7.8-magnitude or larger quake along the southernmost area of the San Andreas fault.
"Such a powerful earthquake could devastate much of Southern California," said David Oglesby, a geophysics professor at UC Riverside. "Because we live in earthquake country, everyone...needs to know what to do when the ground starts shaking.
"We need to know that trying to run outside or going to an interior doorway are both dangerous actions," he said. "Instead, we should drop, cover, and hold on until the shaking stops, and then carefully go outside to a location at a safe distance, away from debris that may fall from buildings."
City and county of Riverside government offices participated in the ShakeOut, along with offices in at least 15 municipalities.
Under the quake scenario, a tectonic shift would 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 from the catastrophe, which would have 50 times the intensity of the Jan. 17, 1994, Northridge earthquake.
Hundreds of aftershocks would follow, a few of them nearly as big as the original event, according to the USGS.
—Maggie Avants contributed to this report.