USGS - science for a changing world

Science Features

Maps, Imagery, and Publications Hazards Newsroom Education Jobs Partnerships Library About USGS Social Media
Science Features
: Top Story
Shake It Like It’s Real on October 17, 2013

Get excited to participate in the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill on October 17, 2013 at 10:17AM local time across the nation and worldwide.

During the drill, participants are encouraged to “DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON,” which are the recommended safety actions to take during an earthquake.

USGS ShakeOut

Students participate in the Great Southeast ShakeOut earthquake drill at Langston Hughes Middle School in Reston, Virginia. They are conducting the “drop, cover and hold on” safety procedure.

In 2012, nearly 20 million people participated in ShakeOut drills worldwide. This year is your opportunity to show the world that you too know how to prevent a major earthquake from becoming a catastrophe by registering here.

The ShakeOut began in California in 2008 and has since spread to other states and regions. The first Central U.S. ShakeOut was held in 2011, and the first SouthEast ShakeOut in 2012. This year 43 states and U.S. territories, and several other countries, are officially involved. People and organizations in all other states and countries can also register their drills through the ShakeOut site.

Though not all of us live in areas where there is significant earthquake risk, earthquakes are hazardous worldwide, and it is important that we all are prepared if we travel to an earthquake territory. Don’t make it your fault that you weren’t prepared for activity at the fault.

Sign Up Now to ShakeOut on Oct. 17

Though ShakeOut is just a few days away, it’s not too late to SIGN UP.

Earthquake hazards are a serious issue and while this drill is an important step to preparedness, it’s also an opportunity to be creative and make safety fun. Everyone is encouraged to join. So get in the spirit, shake it like it’s real, and do your part for earthquake safety.

There are many ways to participate in ShakeOut, and various resources and tips provided online, including flyers, podcasts, safety manuals, and more.

What To Do During the Drill

During an earthquake, the recommended safety action is to “drop, cover, and hold on.”

During an earthquake, the recommended safety action is to “drop, cover, and hold on.”

The ShakeOut drill begins at 10:17AM local time. 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 and 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. Make sure to remain inside the vehicle until the shaking has stopped.

USGS Science in ShakeOut


Children participating in an earthquake drill on April 23, 2009, at the British School in Tokyo, Showa Campus. The drill is based on the Japanese Earthquake Early Warning System.

The U.S. Geological Survey is a proud founder and supporter of ShakeOut.

The USGS has created and provides valuable information for earthquake loss and damage reduction, including hazard assessments, earthquake scenarios, real-time earthquake monitoring and updates, and public preparedness handbooks. USGS science has provided earthquake scenarios that have shaped preparedness exercises such as ShakeOut. USGS hazards research helps emergency managers and other leaders understand where earthquakes occur and how to mitigate potential damages and losses.

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 with 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 through the Earthquake Country Alliance. SCEC is a research consortium funded in part by the USGS. ECA is a public-private partnership of people, organizations, and regional alliances that are led by SCEC and work together to improve preparedness, mitigation, and resiliency by supporting and coordinating efforts that improve earthquake and tsunami resilience.

The success of the 2008 ShakeOut spurred the organizers at ECA to take the concept worldwide, and turn it into an annual day of disaster preparedness activities. Nationwide, ShakeOut activities are now coordinated and supported by many agencies and partners including SCEC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Central United States Earthquake Consortium, the American Red Cross, and others.

USGS employees and centers across the nation are signing up to participate in the ShakeOut drill, to raise company awareness, and to provide opportunities to test occupant emergency plans.

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.


Listen to a podcast interview on ShakeOut. The interview is with Mike Blanpied, Associate Program Coordinator for the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, as well as Mark Benthien, Director of Communication, Education and Outreach with SCEC and coordinates the Great ShakeOut worldwide.

Learn More

USGS provides information to supplement your learning and earthquake education at home. Such resources included are Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety and “Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country”, which is written for different areas of the country and in several languages.

News media may also find information online regarding events, contacts, and other items of interest.

Additional information can be found at the Great ShakeOut website.

Receive news and updates:

RSS Twitter Facebook YouTube

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Ask USGS
Page Last Modified: February 2, 2011