‘Great Shakeout’ Earthquake Drill Now Largest In History

Share Article

Registration tops 8.5 million, still rising California joined by Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, others

News Image
It’s important that all Californians understand that they... can take actions to reduce their risk of death, injury and property losses."

The 2011 Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill has set a record for participants, with more than 8.5 million people registered to “Drop, Cover and Hold On” on October 20th at 10:20 a.m. “That,” according to Mark Benthien, Executive Director of the Earthquake Country Alliance, which produces the annual event, “is 108% of last year’s total.”

More than 5.7 million students, teachers and administrators in schools throughout the state will be joined in the ”Drop, Cover and Hold On” exercise by businesspersons, government officials, hospital staffs, emergency responders, and people in their homes, as more than 50 radio stations throughout the state broadcast detailed instructions about what to do the moment shaking begins.

“It’s important that all Californians understand that they, as well as scientists, first responders and emergency managers, can take actions to reduce their risk of death, injury and property losses,” said Mike Dayton, Acting Secretary, CalEMA. “I urge Californians to participate in the Great California ShakeOut and practice ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On’ procedure at 10:20 a.m. on Thursday."

Several schools throughout the state welcome media coverage during their ShakeOut exercises. Among them are Bushnell Elementary School, Los Angeles, Pasadena Christian School, Pasadena, Taft Middle School, San Diego, and William Cobb Elementary School, San Francisco.

According to Bob Spears, Director, Office of Emergency Services, Los Angeles Unified School District, the District “uses the Great ShakeOut to practice our complete earthquake response plan at every school and office. Every school has a Safe School Plan and the ShakeOut is our opportunity to practice that plan with every teacher and student.”

Many colleges throughout the state participate as well. “The Great ShakeOut has become part of the safety culture at the University of Southern California,” according to Steve Goldfarb, CEM, USC’s Emergency Planning Specialist. “All departments and schools use the drill to test their emergency response and disaster recovery plans. The ShakeOut brings all staff, students, and faculty together for the common goal of helping to save lives.”

The Great California ShakeOut’s Web site, http://www.ShakeOut.org is a significant central repository of relevant links to and information about earthquake safety, with comprehensive information about how individuals, families, businesses, churches, organizations and government agencies can prepare for serious earthquakes, get through them safely, and be able to have a survivable post-quake existence when essential services are likely to be disrupted for days or weeks.

In addition, http://www.ShakeOut.org lists more than 30 ShakeOut event venues designed for media coverage; and lists many of the 50+ radio and television stations around the state that will carry an actual Drill Broadcast – a 60-second message leading participants statewide through the recommended “Drop, Cover and Hold On” drill and providing valuable information about other precautionary measures, over earthquake sound effects.

Statewide events, resources, and updates are available at http://www.ShakeOut.org, including breakout of registrants in 11 areas in California, as well as:


According to ECA’s Benthien, “The ShakeOut was designed and implemented four years ago to train people to instinctively react to an earthquake with the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” response. It is doing just that.”

According to Glenn Pomeroy, CEO of the California Earthquake Authority, “The ShakeOut is a reminder for all Californians to prepare now so they can survive and recover following the next damaging earthquake. The CEA encourages everyone to take simple steps now to protect their family, and to consider earthquake insurance to protect their finances. We encourage everyone to sign up and participate in the Great California ShakeOut.”

What began in 2008 in Southern California and then quickly spread throughout the state now includes participants in Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, British Columbia, Guam, and even a group in Asia headquartered in Tajikistan. This year’s ShakeOut activities in the Los Angeles area will be observed by interested groups of police, fire and emergency officials from Mexico, China and Japan.

Heather Lyle, Director of Integrated Public Safety/Emergency Management British Columbia, noted that “the BC Earthquake Alliance and ShakeOut BC Organizing Committee are pleased to join forces with California’s ShakeOut campaign. By coordinating our drills for the same day and time,” Lyle points out, “we are building a lasting partnership that will make our programs stronger and more resilient, supporting our mutual goal of earthquake awareness and emergency preparedness.”

The Great California ShakeOut highlights public-private partnerships between government, communities and the private sector, with sponsors including Earthquake Country Alliance members: California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA), the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), the American Red Cross (ARC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the California Department of Education, and State Farm Insurance.

– D’Anne Ousley, California Earthquake Authority, 916-769-5766
– Lance Webster, Earthquake Country Alliance, 213-321-2194
– Susan Garcia, U.S. Geological Survey, 650-329-4668    
– Margaret Vinci, Caltech, 626-395-3298


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

D'Anne Ousley
California Earthquake Authority
(916) 769-5766
Email >