Drop! Cover! Hold On!

Today, I’ve invited Brian Blake, Earthquake Program Coordinator of the Central United States Earthquake Consortium, to tell us about the upcoming ShakeOut earthquake drill.  It’s a great opportunity to learn how to stay safe during an earthquake.  Check it out!

Earlier this month the devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake in Japan caused widespread death, damage, and disruption.  The resulting tsunami even caused damage to ports and docks as far away as the West Coast of the United States.  This earthquake was the most powerful on record in Japan, the fifth largest in recorded history, and serves as a reminder that earthquakes can happen at any time, and can have devastating and far-reaching effects.

Most people are injured in earthquakes by furniture or objects (bookshelves, electronics, etc.) falling on them, not from building collapse, which usually only occurs in larger earthquakes.  A simple action, “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”, has been proven to reduce injuries and deaths related to earthquake shaking.  In an earthquake: 

  • Drop to the floor (before the earthquake drops you!)
  • Take Cover, under a sturdy desk or table, and
  • Hold On, until the shaking stops

The recent earthquake in Japan emphasizes the importance for residents of the central U.S. to learn how to react when an earthquake strikes.  The 2011 Great Central U.S. ShakeOut at 10:15am on April 28, 2011 (April 19 in Indiana) provides an opportunity for us to put this knowledge into practice.

What we do now, before a damaging earthquake, will determine what our lives are like following one.  The ShakeOut is an eleven state earthquake drill where more than one million participants are expected to simultaneously practice “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”.   Already, more than 1.1 million participants have pledged to participate.  The ShakeOut encourages you to not only practice an earthquake drill, but also to learn about other aspects of earthquake safety.Who should participate in the ShakeOut?

The ShakeOut is free, open to the general public, and all interested in disaster preparedness are encouraged to participate, no matter where you may live. This includes individuals, schools, businesses, governments, etc. The drill is a one to two minute commitment and is designed to be simple and thought provoking.

Interested people, schools, businesses, communities, etc. are encouraged to visit www.shakeout.org/centralus to pledge their participation in the drill. By registering, they are added to a growing list of people throughout the region. This list is displayed on the website and available for others to see, encouraging community participation.

Instructions on how to perform a “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” drill are posted on the website, along with drill broadcasts, videos, and other easy to use resources.

All we ask is that you sign up and pledge your participation. It is a one to two minute commitment for something that may save your life.


  1. says

    I live in a tsunami zone and we have been talking about this a lot recently. I think for our family home we may do an earthquake simulation followed by a tsunami evacuation. We really need to check those 72 hour kits too. Those are the kinds of things that need to be ready to throw in the car at any time. Great post!

  2. says

    Such a great idea! I live in Iowa so I don’t think its a concern but my sister is in California and they do the drill often and have taught it to their 2 year old!


  3. says

    Thank you for this informative post. Living on the west coast, I know it is important to be prepared for earthquakes and tsunamis. One thing that we hear a lot about here is to have a 3-Day Emergency kit. The American Red Cross sells kits on their web site.

  4. Polly says

    I’m very excited about the ShakeOut drill. Before hearing about it, my kids knew nothing about what to do in case of an earthquake. At least by talking about it and giving them some tips on how to respond, they will hopefully be able to remain calm and have a game plan if they are ever in an earthquake. Since our part of the country is on the New Madrid fault, I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’ll see an earthquake at some point! Thanks for all of your comments and suggestions on how to prepare!

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