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Get Ready to ShakeOut on October 18

USGS CoreCast

ShakeOut Drill: Preparing for Earthquakes

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You are encouraged to participate in the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill to be held on October 18, 2012.

Children participating in an earthquake drill on April 23, 2009, at the British School in Tokyo, Showa Campus. The drill is based on the Japanese Earthquake Early Warning System.

Children participating in an earthquake drill on April 23, 2009, at the British School in Tokyo, Showa Campus. The drill is based on the Japanese Earthquake Early Warning System.

During the drill, participants will “drop, cover, and hold on.” This is the recommended safety action to take during an earthquake.

Millions of people have participated in ShakeOut drills since 2008. The drill is your chance to practice how to protect yourself and do your part to help prevent a major earthquake from becoming a catastrophe.

This will be the first year an earthquake preparedness drill is officially held in the southeastern United States. The Great Southeast ShakeOut includes Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Official ShakeOut drills will also be held on October 18 in Alaska, Arizona, British Columbia, California, Guam, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Puerto Rico, southern Italy, and Washington.

Even if you don’t live in one of these locations, this is an important exercise as earthquakes are a hazard worldwide. Keep in mind that you might travel somewhere where an earthquake could occur. Everyone, everywhere, is encouraged to participate in the ShakeOut.

Sign Up and ShakeOut

Although the ShakeOut is just days away, it is not too late to register to participate. Mark your calendar and register for the ShakeOut drill near you. Families, schools, businesses, and organizations can all get involved and sign up.

There are many ways to participate, and a variety of resources and tips are provided online. This includes pre-made flyers, drill broadcast recordings, drill manuals, and more.

What to Do During the Drill

The drill will begin at 10:18 a.m. local time. If you are indoors, you should “drop, cover, and hold on.” Drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on to it firmly. If you are not near a desk or table, drop to the floor against the interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms. Avoid exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances, and kitchen cabinets with heavy objects or glass.

While down on the floor, take a moment to look around at what could be falling during a real earthquake. Those items should be secured or moved after the drill.

During an earthquake, the recommended safety action is to “drop, cover, and hold on.”

During an earthquake, the recommended safety action is to “drop, cover, and hold on.”

If you happen to be outdoors, move to a clear area if you can safely do so. Avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles, and other items that could fall on you. If you are driving, pull over to the side of the road, stop, and set the parking brake. Avoid stopping under overpasses, bridges, power lines, or traffic signs. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over.

USGS Science in ShakeOut

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is a proud founder and supporter of ShakeOut.

The USGS has created and provides information tools to support earthquake loss reduction, including hazard assessments, scenarios, comprehensive real-time earthquake monitoring and public preparedness handbooks. USGS science provides the basis for earthquake scenarios that shape preparedness exercises such as the ShakeOut. USGS earthquake hazards research helps emergency managers understand where earthquakes occur and what the potential damages and losses would be.

The original ShakeOut was based on a comprehensive analysis of a major earthquake in southern California known as “The ShakeOut Scenario.” That project was completed in 2008 and led by the USGS with many partners as a demonstration of how science can be applied to reduce risks related to natural hazards. The concept and organization of a public drill came out of the collaboration between the USGS, the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), and other partners through the Earthquake Country Alliance (ECA). SCEC is a research consortium funded in part by the USGS. ECA is a public-private partnership of people, organizations, and regional alliances that are led by SCEC and work together to improve preparedness, mitigation, and resiliency by supporting and coordinating efforts that improve earthquake and tsunami resilience.

The success of the 2008 ShakeOut spurred the organizers at ECA to take the concept worldwide, and turn it into an annual day of disaster preparedness activities. Nationwide, ShakeOut activities are now coordinated and supported by many agencies and partners including SCEC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC), the American Red Cross, and others.

USGS employees across the nation are signing up to participate in the drill, raising awareness and providing an opportunity to test occupant emergency plans.

The USGS provides rapid alerts of potential impacts from an earthquake through its Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response (PAGER)  system. Sign up to receive earthquake notices through the USGS Earthquake Notification System. If you feel an earthquake, report your experience on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website.


Listen to a podcast interview on ShakeOut. The interview is with Mike Blanpied, who is the Associate Program Coordinator for the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, as well as Mark  Benthien, who is the Director of Communication, Education and Outreach with SCEC and coordinates the Great ShakeOut worldwide.

Learn More

Learn how to prepare at home using the 7 Steps to Earthquake Safety from “Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country” written for different areas of the country and in several languages.

News media can also find information online regarding events, contacts and other items of interest.

Additional information on what you can do to prepare for earthquakes at work and home is available on the Great ShakeOut website.

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