The International Shake-Out is set for Thursday, October 15 and Americans are preparing for the 10:15am local time drill. Each year, millions of people “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” in The Great ShakeOut, the world’s largest earthquake drill. People are encouraged to participate in the drill wherever they are since major earthquakes may happen anywhere people live, work, or travel. The purpose of the ShakeOut is to practice how to protect ourselves and for everyone to become better prepared. The goal of the drill is to prevent a major earthquake from becoming a catastrophe. Thousands of state and local organizations are participating in the drill ranging from state governments to local schools and hospitals. An estimated 11.1 million people have said they plan to participate in this year’s drill, with 10 million from the United States alone.
The purpose of the drill is to remind people to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” In an actual earthquake, you may only have seconds to protect yourself in an earthquake before strong shaking knocks you down, or something falls on you. Millions of people worldwide have participated in Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills since 2008. The Great ShakeOut is held on the third Thursday of October each year.
The local ShakeOut drill is part of an international effort in which participants simultaneously practice how to stay safe during an earthquake — “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”. For most people, in most situations, this means to:
- DROP where you are, onto your hands and knees;
- COVER your head and neck with one arm and hand, as you crawl for shelter under a nearby table or desk;
- HOLD ON to your shelter with one hand until shaking stops (remain on your knees and covering your head and neck with your other arm and hand).
Millions of people have registered their planned participation in the ShakeOut drill. Businesses, schools, and all other organizations are encouraged to register and participate. The ShakeOut website has a tremendous wealth of information and resources, such as easy-to-print PDF’s and posters, designed to increase safety around the threat of earthquakes.
On average, there are about 50 measurable earthquakes around the world every day. There are, however, millions of earthquakes estimated to occur every year that are too weak to be felt. While many think California is the most susceptible to earthquakes, earthquakes can be felt in every state in the United States and Hawaii by far has the most. In the last 30 days, Hawaii has had 353 earthquakes greater than 1.5; in the last year, the Aloha State has experienced 42,699. The most powerful earthquake to strike the U.S. struck Alaska in 1964; the 9.2 was the strongest quake to ever impact the continent too on record. A 7.7 quake in Missouri was also another top quake for the country; it created damage in a wide area of the eastern United States. Powerful earthquakes around the United States and beyond can also create a tsunami threat to both the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines.
This year’s drill will be unique due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants are adapting their ShakeOut activities through video-conferencing, choosing staggered or alternative dates, and following local health and safety guidelines.
“We have come a long way since ShakeOut began in 2008,” said Mark Benthien, Global ShakeOut Coordinator and Outreach Director for the Southern California Earthquake Center at the University of Southern California. “More people have not only been practicing earthquake safety, but also securing furniture and objects around them, discussing safety plans, and even retrofitting their homes. For 2020, they are also adapting their drill plans because of COVID-19.”
Different states and regions are employing different tactics to keep their area prepared. As an example, Earthquake Warning California is coordinating a statewide test to coincide, for the first time, with ShakeOut on October 15. People who have downloaded the MyShake app to their phone will receive a TEST warning at 10:15am with guidance to Drop, Cover, and Hold On.