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What is the Great ShakeOut? It’s the world’s largest earthquake drill, where on the third Thursday of October, millions of people around the globe practice Drop, Cover, and Hold on, the best way to protect yourself during an earthquake. 

Washington State has the second highest earthquake risk in the United States, so we encourage everyone in the state to understand the hazard, and think about how an earthquake might impact their daily lives. Learn more about the Drill, and register to participate in Washington at

We know 2020 has been a challenging year and understand that there’s a strong possibility that many of you may be partially or even fully remote on October 15th.  Despite this, we strongly believe that there is value in taking time to practice an earthquake drill individually and/or with your family.

Whether you’re in-person or remote, it’s also an excellent time to think about how an earthquake might impact your organization. Some things to think about:

  • How would an earthquake impact workers or visitors?
    • Are there objects that could fall during earthquake shaking, putting employees or customers in danger?
  • Are there parts of your work that could be at risk if there was an earthquake?
    • Is there important machinery or merchandise that could be damaged?
    • Are computers strapped down so they will not fall or be damaged during an earthquake?
    • Think about interconnected systems, like water pipes that could be broken, fire hazards, or anything that requires electricity.
  • What is your business/organization’s plans for when an earthquake occurs?
    • If you have a plan for generic emergencies, will it apply to the situation of an earthquake?
    • An earthquake can happen at any time of day – does your plan account for how employees could check in if something happened at night?
  • Is your supply chain prepared for an earthquake?
    • Think about how damage to roads and bridges might impact how quickly your business/organization can recover.

When it comes to your safety and the safety of anyone visiting: How you “drop, cover, and hold on” changes based on your surroundings. Here, you can find a poster that shows the safest actions in a variety of locations.

Since we can’t predict when an earthquake will occur, we don’t know where we’ll find ourselves when one occurs.  It’s a good idea to think about how to be safe in the areas where you spend the most time - are there objects around you that could become dangerous to you or others during shaking? The Earthquake Country Alliance has some excellent tips on what to be on the lookout for, and how to “Secure your space,” available at

For ideas, tips, and considerations for four different levels of drill, see the Drill Manuals from ShakeOut:

For Businesses: 

For Non-Profit Organizations:

A “Drill Broadcast” recording that can be played over any speakers, including PA systems, can be downloaded at

Washington State also has 3,000 miles of coastline susceptible to tsunamis – if your business or organization is located near the coast, it may be a good idea to practice your tsunami evacuation routes as well! At 10:15 on 10/15, as part of the drill, coastal AHAB Tsunami sirens will go off with the “Wail” sound, instead of the one typically used for drills. More information, and samples of the “wail” and monthly test sounds are available at

To learn more about whether you are in a tsunami inundation zone, and what your evacuation routes are, visit:

One more thing – we ask that you please register for the Great ShakeOut drill, free, at:  Registration helps us to get an idea of the number of participants in the state, and can help us to show how many people are working on being more prepared for earthquakes!

Thank you for your commitment to building resiliency and keeping yourselves, your employees, and you visitors/customers safe! Please feel free to reach out to with any questions, or to share what you’re doing for the drill this year.  You’re also welcome to join the rest of the world’s participants, and “Show us Your ShakeOut,” using the hashtag “#ShakeOut” on social media.

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