The Great Shakeout earthquake drill prepares WA

Oct 20, 2022, 5:03 AM | Updated: 7:28 am


First responders tend to exercise victims, playing roles of Earthquake casualties, during the 2017 Great California Shakeout earthquake drill at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, California, on October 19, 2017. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

(FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

The annual worldwide Great Shakeout earthquake drill is this Thursday, Oct. 20, and starts at 10:20 a.m. PDT.

The goal of the drill is to help save lives from an earthquake 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 drill including families, businesses, schools, healthcare facilities, faith-based organizations, neighborhood groups, and more.

Over 1.2 million people have registered in Washington state.

Schools use this event as their October monthly emergency drill.

The earthquake drill will kick off when the Emergency Alert System (EAS) is activated at 10:20 a.m. PDT Thursday. The EAS message will be aired by all radio and TV broadcasters, and cable systems statewide, as well as through the all-hazard National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Weather Radio receiver(s).

The network of close to 100 All-Hazard Alert Broadcast (AHAB) outdoor siren and speaker systems from the outer coast to the North Sound region will also be activated.

Like a fire drill at school or work, this is the moment to ‘drop, cover and hold’ for a minute.

Washington is earthquake country, as the second most threatened state in the nation, after California. There are a number of regional earthquake faults with long histories such as the Seattle fault, the Tacoma fault, and the South Whidbey fault.

There is also 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 the coast of Japan, which produced a major earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 that devastated not only the island nation but could also be felt off the coast of Alaska, the west coast of South America, and around many 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 – the number one cause of earthquake injuries.

In addition, the Great Shakeout drill provides the opportunity to practice your backup communication plan. An earthquake will likely occur when we are not at home, and phones and transportation corridors may no longer be accessible. 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 from the Department of Natural Resources.

Here are some helpful earthquake preparedness videos and information.

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

Great Shakeout Public Service Announcement

ShakeAlert – What is it and how does it work?

Two Weeks Ready: Craft an Emergency Kit

Tsunami wave simulation for Washington State

You can register here for the Great Shakeout.

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The Great Shakeout earthquake drill prepares WA