Back to top

Disaster Preparedness Program Leads Great Shakeout Exercise

OCT. 31, 2022 — Nearly half of all Americans are exposed to potentially damaging earthquakes where they work and live. Still, others will be at risk when traveling. It’s a good idea for everyone, everywhere to know how to protect themselves during an earthquake.

A graphic reading "drop," "cover," and "hold on."
Image Credit: Earthquake Safety Alliance.

International Shakeout Day, held annually on the third Thursday of October, provides just such an opportunity to join millions of other participants around the world in practicing earthquake safety and preparedness activities. This year, on Oct. 20, OR&R’s Disaster Preparedness Program facilitated their second annual Great Shakeout virtual exercise for NOAA staff by offering two opportunities to practice what to do during and after a simulated large magnitude earthquake event.

Last year’s preparedness activity focused on the proper actions to take when the earth starts to shake. They listened to a pre-recorded emergency alert asking them to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” Participants then moved to their safe space under a table or desk or next to a wall away from windows. Participants were then instructed to stay on their knees, bend forward to protect their vital organs, and cover their head and neck. They were also reminded to adapt their actions based on their own unique needs. 

This year built upon last year’s exercise by conducting the same “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” action when the simulated earth started shaking, but added a review of potential threats encountered during the reprieve immediately following the simulated main shock. Participants were guided through appropriate safe actions to take to minimize their risk of injury AFTER the shaking stops. Aftershocks, landslides, and other earth movement can cause items to shift, fires to start, tsunamis to form, and more. Even a minor earthquake can cause pipes to snap and objects inside your home to shift.

Whether or not you took part in this year’s Great Shakeout alongside more than 45 NOAA Line Office and Staff Office participants, please let it serve as a valuable reminder that taking the time to review, practice, and update your earthquake safety plans at home and at work is now.

Last updated Tuesday, November 8, 2022 1:40pm PST