The Great Shakeout

The annual worldwide Great Shakeout earthquake drill was held on Thursday, October 15th at 10:15 AM PDT. The goal of the drill is to help save lives by practicing drop, cover and hold under a desk, table or other sturdy items together as a group or individually.

Millions of people around the globe will again participate in this annual earthquake drill including families, businesses, schools, health care facilities, faith-based organizations, neighborhood groups and more.

Register today at  Over 1.5 million people in Washington registered last year. With so many working and schooling from home this year, the drill is a great opportunity to practice your drop, cover and hold skills as a group.

The earthquake drill will kick off when the Emergency Alert System (EAS) is activated at 1015 AM PDT on Thursday the 15th. The EAS message will be aired by all radio and TV broadcasters, and cable systems statewide, as well as through your all-hazard NOAA Weather Radio receiver(s).

Like a fire drill at school or work, this is your moment to drop, cover and hold for a minute. Have fun with the event like taking photos and videos while under a table or desk, and post them on social media.

If the time of Thursday morning’s drill is inconvenient, you can always conduct your own earthquake drill at another time. A good resource for creating your own drill is found at this Shakeout website.

Washington is earthquake country, the second most threatened state in the nation, second to California. The North Sound region is particularly vulnerable thanks to the South Whidbey Island fault crossing the region. Geologic history and projections indicate this fault can produce close to a 7.0 magnitude earthquake with substantial shaking.

There are other regional earthquake faults with long histories such as the Seattle fault and the Tacoma fault. And then there is the Cascadia Subduction Zone just off the Pacific Northwest coast that history shows can produce around a 9.0 magnitude quake. This subduction zone is similar to those off Japan that produced a major earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, plus off the coast of Alaska, the west coast of South America such as Chile, and around much of the Pacific Ocean basin coastlines.

Earthquakes are no notice events and can happen at any time. We all spend about a third of our lives in bed sleeping. If an earthquake occurs then, simply stay in bed and cover your head with a pillow. Have a pair of hard soled shoes under your bed and slip them on after the shaking stops to ensure you do not step on any broken glass. Many earthquake injuries occur as a result of stepping on broken glass with bare feet.

In addition, the Great Shakeout drill provides the opportunity to practice your backup communication plan. An earthquake can occur when we are not at home, and phones and transportation corridors may no longer be available. Know in advance how and who to reach in case phone systems are down.

For more earthquake preparedness information such as a backup communication plan and how to secure items in your home or business, visit Washington Earthquake Preparedness .

Register for the Great Shakeout today and have fun with the drill on Thursday morning at 1015 AM.  Together with other readiness efforts, you will be better prepared when the next earthquake occurs.

Here are some helpful earthquake preparedness videos.

When an earthquake strikes, will you know what to do?

What you should do when Earthquake Early Warning comes to the West Coast

Two Weeks Ready: Craft an Emergency Kit

Tsunami wave simulation for Washington State

Drop, Cover & Hold on videos:


North Sound Meteorologist Ted Buehner worked more than 40 years for the National Weather Service (NWS) from 1977 to 2018. He is now an Everett Post Media team member. Together with Everett Post Weather Minute Podcasts, he provides morning and afternoon commute traffic and weather updates on both KRKO and KXA Radio, and sports reporting on KRKO.