Do you know what to do the moment the ground starts shaking? Drop, Cover, and Hold On! Be prepared and join millions of people participating in the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill worldwide on October 15. In total, more than 40 million people from 60 countries are registered to participate throughout the year in 2015.
USGS scientists recently determined that nearly half of Americans are exposed to potentially damaging earthquakes based on where they work and live. Still others will be at risk when traveling. Everyone, everywhere, should know how to protect themselves during an earthquake. Don’t leave it to luck.
During an earthquake, the recommended safety action is to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” Photo courtesy of The Great ShakeOut
Shake It Like It’s Real
Mark your calendar and register to participate so that you know how to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community. Families, schools, businesses, and organizations can all sign up and get involved. 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.
The History of ShakeOut
The USGS is a proud founder and supporter of ShakeOut. The ShakeOut began in California in 2008 and has since spread to other states and regions and now internationally as well.
This year, 45 states and all U.S. territories, along with several other countries, are officially involved. People and organizations in all other states and countries can also register their drills through the ShakeOut site.
What’s Your Exposure to Earthquake Shaking?
If you want to find out how intense ground shaking could be from an earthquake near you, check out the recently released 2014 USGS National Seismic Hazard Maps. These maps reflect the best and most current understanding of where future earthquakes will occur, how often they will occur, and how hard the ground will likely shake as a result.
What to Do During the Drill
Most people will hold their ShakeOut drills at 10:15 am local time on 10/15 (though drills can be held anytime and on other days if necessary). 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 securely. If you are not near a desk or table, drop to the floor against an interior wall, then protect your head and neck with your arms. Avoid exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances, and kitchen cabinets filled with heavy objects or glass.
While on the ground, look around and see what objects could fall during a potential earthquake, and make sure to secure or move those items after the drill.
If you happen to be outdoors, move to a clear and open area if you can do so. Avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles, and other items that can fall on you. If you are driving, pull over to the side of the road and set the parking brake. Do not stop under bridges, overpasses, power lines, or traffic signs. If you were in a real earthquake, make sure to remain inside the vehicle until the shaking has stopped.
USGS Science in 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 and 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 of the Earthquake Country Alliance (ECA).
The success of the 2008 ShakeOut drill inspired other states and countries to want to participate. The third Thursday of October each year is now the International ShakeOut Day of Action, with more countries joining each year. ShakeOut’s growth is coordinated by SCEC (which also manages ShakeOut websites globally) with the support of many agencies and partners across the nation, including the USGS, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), NSF, the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC), and many others.
Video – Earthquake Tips from Virginia Students
Watch a short video with students from Louisa County, Virginia, discussing the re-opening of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, which was damaged following the magnitude 5.8 earthquake in 2011. USGS Earthquake Hazards Program Associate Coordinator Mike Blanpied also discusses USGS research underway and the role of science as the foundation for understanding hazards and making preparedness decisions.
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.
Learn how to prepare at home using the 7 Steps to Earthquake Safety from the guidebook “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.