Millions participating in Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills, adapting for COVID-19 pandemic

Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills, a worldwide earthquake safety movement, are involving 17.1 million people throughout 2020 (and counting). Most participate in¬†ShakeOut¬†by registering to practice “Drop, Cover, and Hold On,” and many do much more. 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 (see¬†ShakeOut.org/covid19).

In a year of uncertainties and challenges, ShakeOut provides the opportunity to increase individual and community resilience. There is still time to join ShakeOut this year: register to participate on any day that works for you at ShakeOut.org. Most take action on International ShakeOut Day each third Thursday of October, this year being October 15. At least 11.1 million people around the world are expected to take action on this day, including 10 million people from the United States and its territories. See ShakeOut.org for current totals.

Also, 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! Learn more at earthquake.ca.gov.

ShakeOut organizers recommend people follow the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety, which starts with Step 1: Secure Your Space. Most earthquake injuries are entirely preventable and are caused by the furniture and other objects that move or break when shaking occurs, resulting in trips, bruises, cuts, and more. Start now: move heavy objects down to lower shelves, relocate tall furniture away from entrances and exits, and secure cabinets with latches.

“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.”

Recommended earthquake safety actions for a variety of special situations (in a theater, in a car, etc.) and for people with disabilities are described at EarthquakeCountry.org/step5 as text, graphics and videos.

Jonathan Gudel

Jonathan Gudel is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). Since joining Cal OES, he has assisted in the response and recovery efforts of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, the state's historic drought, the Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, unprecedented winter storms in 2017, the 2017 October (Sonoma County) and December (Santa Barbara County) wildfires, the Camp Fire in 2018, the 2020 statewide fire siege, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, he worked in the newspaper industry for 12 years.

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