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Great Shakeout Exercise Increases Preparedness for NOAA Staff

OCT. 30, 2023 — On October 19th, 70 individuals from across NOAA joined millions of others worldwide from beneath their desks and tables, in celebration of International ShakeOut Day. Known as Shakeout Day, this annual event is held on the third Thursday of October and is the largest earthquake drill in the world.

Answer: False. Do not stand in a doorway. The doorway is usually the weakest part of a structure. This is because some of the framing members (studs) have been removed to accommodate an opening, which creates a break in the integrity of the wall. Standing in a door frame leaves you extremely exposed from imploding plate glass from windows and other flying or falling debris when the shaking starts (USGS).

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), about 1 in 10 people in the U.S. now live in high-hazard areas where strong shaking is likely during their lifetimes. Additionally, about a third of the population live in places where very strong shaking from rare earthquakes is anticipated. 

With so many people living, working, or traveling to areas of high or moderate seismic activity, it’s important for everyone, everywhere to know how to protect themselves when the earth starts to shake. That is why, for the third year in a row, NOAA’s Homeland Security Program Office (HSPO) and OR&R’s Disaster Preparedness Program (DPP) facilitated this 30 minute virtual life-saving earthquake drill. 

This year, participants learned what to do and how to respond in the case of a ground rattling temblor and tsunami. A pre-recorded emergency alert was played, asking participants to get to their safe space and DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON for one minute. This involved navigating to a secure location under a sturdy table or desk or next to an interior wall away from windows. Participants were instructed to stay on their knees, bend forward to protect their vital organs, and cover their head and neck. Following the emergency alert activity, exercise 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.

This year’s exercise also included a discussion on the most prevalent and dangerous earthquake safety myths, to empower participants to separate fact from fiction so that they are better prepared to protect themselves and their family from earthquake hazards. The Great Shakeout serves as a valuable reminder that taking the time to review, practice, and update your earthquake safety preparedness at home and at work is now.

Last updated Friday, December 15, 2023 8:55pm PST