The Great California Shakeout

Everyone - everywhere on the planet - should know how to protect themselves during earthquakes. Even if earthquakes are rare where you live, they may happen where you or your family travel. Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills are an annual opportunity for people in homes, schools, and organizations to practice what to do during earthquakes, and to improve preparedness.

"The Great Shakeout" is an organized annual public earthquake drill. Not a real earthquake.
The next ShakeOut drill is scheduled for Thursday October 17th, 2019 - at 10:17 AM.

Everyone - everywhere on the planet - should know how to protect themselves during earthquakes. Even if earthquakes are rare where you live, they may happen where you or your family travel. Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills are an annual opportunity for people in homes, schools, and organizations to practice what to do during earthquakes, and to improve preparedness.

The ShakeOut began in California and has also been organized in many other states and countries. Official ShakeOut Regions require significant local or regional coordination, typically by an emergency management agency or an alliance of many organizations. If you are interested in establishing a ShakeOut drill for your region please visit shakeout.org. If your state, province, or country is not yet participating you can register yourself or your organization as part of the global participation total.

Shakeout Participants

As of 2022-09-29

Why participate?


Many areas of the globe are prone to earthquakes. You could be anywhere when an earthquake strikes: at home, at work, at school or even on vacation. Are you prepared to survive and to recover quickly? Great ShakeOut earthquake drills are an opportunity to practice how to be safer during earthquakes: "Drop, Cover and Hold On". ShakeOut also has been organized to encourage you, your community, your school, or your organization to update emergency plans and supplies, and to secure your space in order to prevent damage and injuries.

Vital Information

What, How and Why



How to participate and prepare

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There are many ways for individuals, businesses, schools, faith-based organizations, community groups, government agencies, and others to participate in the ShakeOut, to get prepared for earthquakes, and to share what you're doing with others so they can do the same. Scroll down for basic instructions on how to plan your drill and get prepared. Select from the following list to download flyers with customized ideas for what you or your organization can do:

  • Consider what may happen when an earthquake shakes your area. Plan what you will do now to prepare, so that when it happens you will be able to protect yourself and then recover quickly. See this page for what to do if you have a disability or an activity limitation.

  • Download Audio and Video "Drill Broadcast" recordings that have been created to provide instructions during your drill (Video versions have text captions).

  • Talk to other people or organizations about what they have done, and encourage them to join you in getting more prepared. Display posters around your community, classroom, or office space and provide flyers for further information.

Why "Drop Cover and Hold On!"?

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Why is it important to hold a "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" earthquake drill? To react quickly you must practice often. You may only have seconds to protect yourself in an earthquake, before strong shaking knocks you down - or drops something on you. Practicing helps you be ready to respond.

  • If you are inside a building, move no more than a few steps, then Drop, Cover and Hold On:
    1. DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),
    2. Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
    3. HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.

    Stay indoors till the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. In most buildings you are safer if you stay where you are until the shaking stops.


  • If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, you should find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines, then Drop, Cover and Hold On. Stay there until the shaking stops.

  • If you are driving, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Once the shaking stops, proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.

Ground shaking during an earthquake is seldom the cause of injury. Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths are caused by collapsing walls and roofs, flying glass and falling objects. It is extremely important for a person to move as little as possible to reach the place of safety he or she has identified because most injuries occur when people try to move more than a short distance during the shaking.

Look around you now, before an earthquake. Identify safe places such as under a sturdy piece of furniture or against an interior wall in your home, office or school so that when the shaking starts you can respond quickly. An immediate response to move to the safe place can save lives. And that safe place should be within a few steps to avoid injury from flying debris.

The day of your drill

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  • Drop, Cover, and Hold On: Drop to the ground, take Cover under a table or desk, and Hold On to it as if a major earthquake were happening (stay down for at least 60 seconds). Practice now so you will immediately protect yourself during earthquakes!

  • While still under the table, or wherever you are, look around and imagine what would happen in a major earthquake. What would fall on you or others? What would be damaged? What would life be like after? What will you do before the actual earthquake happens to reduce losses and quickly recover?

  • Finally, practice what your community will do after the shaking stops.

  • A great step for after your "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" drill is to practice how to communicate with family, friends, and co-workers. Texting first before making phone calls is highly recommended. Learn more from ShakeOut partner Safe America Foundation and their "Text First. Talk Second." campaign, including how to hold a texting drill.

What not to do

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There are many ways for individuals, businesses, schools, faith-based organizations, community groups, government agencies, and others to participate in the ShakeOut, to get prepared for earthquakes, and to share what you're doing with others so they can do the same. Scroll down for basic instructions on how to plan your drill and get prepared. Select from the following list to download flyers with customized ideas for what you or your organization can do:

  • DO NOT get in a doorway! An early earthquake photo is a collapsed adobe home with the door frame as the only standing part. From this came our belief that a doorway is the safest place to be during an earthquake. In modern houses and buildings, doorways are no safer, and they do not protect you from flying or falling objects. Get under a table instead!

  • DO NOT run outside! Trying to run in an earthquake is dangerous, as the ground is moving and you can easily fall or be injured by debris or glass. Running outside is especially dangerous, as glass, bricks, or other building components may be falling. You are much safer to stay inside and get under a table.

  • DO NOT believe the so-called "triangle of life"! In recent years, an e-mail has circulated which recommends potentially life threatening actions, and the source has been discredited by leading experts. Read our special report to learn more.

ShakeOut Videos

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Simple videos demonstrating what to do to protect yourself in various situations - near a table, no table nearby, in a theater/auditorium, at the shore, and while driving . . .

Next ShakeOut is 2019.10.17

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