Environmental Information

"ShakeOut" Earthquake Drills

October 23, 2011, 10:54 am
Source: National Science Foundation
Content Cover Image

Learn how to deal with a quake. Source: NSF; Credit: Joan Price.

Drop! Cover! Hold On! "ShakeOut"
Earthquake Drills Take Place This Week

"ShakeOuts" to be held in California, Nevada,
Guam, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia

"Great ShakeOut" earthquake drills were held in October 2011 in California, Nevada, Guam, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia, and involved more than 8.7 million participants. The Shakeouts motivated people to be prepared to "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" to protect themselves during earthquakes at work, school and home.

Participants registered on the Great California ShakeOut website.

caption Source: Southern California Earthquake Center.

The ShakeOut began in southern California in 2008 as a way of involving the general public in a large-scale emergency management exercise. It is based on a magnitude 7.8 earthquake along the San Andreas fault, and on the "ShakeOut Scenario" developed by a team of experts.

The Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) developed advanced simulations of this earthquake that were used to estimate potential losses and casualties, and to show the public how the shaking would be felt throughout the region.

"ShakeOut started in southern California and has grown to become the largest public preparedness exercise in the United States. It's a great example of the broader impacts of NSF investments in basic science and education."

SCEC is a community of more than 600 scientists, students and staff members from some 60 institutions, in partnership with other science, engineering, education and government organizations worldwide. In addition to scientific contributions to the ShakeOut Scenario, SCEC also hosts the ShakeOut website and created a registration system where participants could be counted in the overall total.

More than 5.4 million people participated in California in 2008, with schools for the first time coordinating earthquake drills on the same day.

Part of the appeal of the ShakeOut is its simplicity. At a minimum, participants practice "Drop, Cover, and Hold On," the recommended procedure for self-protection in an earthquake. Many schools and other organizations also practice additional aspects of their preparedness plans.

While the 2008 California ShakeOut was initially conceived as an one-time event, participant demand convinced organizers to develop the ShakeOut into a statewide, annual event. More than 6.9 million people participated in the 2009 California ShakeOut, and more than 7.9 million in 2010.

The 2011 Great California ShakeOut will be held on Oct. 20, 2011, at 10:20 a.m. PST, with more than 8 million people in businesses, government offices, neighborhoods, schools and as individuals currently registered.

In addition to the areas listed above that are holding drills on October 20th, eleven states in the Central United States participated in April 2011 and will again in February 2012. 

Utah is holding its first ShakeOut on April 17, 2012, the first Tokyo Shakeout is planned for March 9, 2012, and New Zealand is planning a nationwide ShakeOut in September 2012. Washington, Puerto Rico, Arizona, Alaska and several countries including New Zealand, Turkey, Chile, China and others also have expressed interest.

"ShakeOut is changing the way people and organizations are approaching community-wide earthquake preparedness."


October 18, 2011

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Related Websites



(2011). "ShakeOut" Earthquake Drills. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/news/51cbf2357896bb431f6a8438


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