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The Great ShakeOut: How to Respond in an Earthquake

The organizers behind the ShakeOut shared three steps from federal, state and local emergency management experts to reduce the risk of injuries and death when an earthquake hits.

Olympia, Wash.
Shutterstock/Always Wanderlust
(TNS) - It's the third Thursday in October, which means it's time for the Great Washington ShakeOut.

The annual earthquake drill will take place at 10:21 a.m. Emergency-management experts and officials are encouraging the public to practice earthquake safety Thursday.

The organizers behind the ShakeOut shared three steps from federal, state, and local emergency management experts to reduce the risk of injuries and death when an earthquake hits:

1. DROP where you are onto your hands and knees. Stay low to the ground and crawl to shelter if nearby, such as under a table. If there is no shelter, crawl to an interior wall to be away from windows.

2. COVER your heads and neck with one arm and hand. Stay bent over on your knees to protect vital organs.

3. HOLD ON until the shaking stops.

FEMA shared a video with recommendations for people with limited upper body movement who may not be able to follow guidance to "drop, cover, and hold on." More resources for people with disabilities and other access or functional needs are available here.

Beyond practicing these steps, the ShakeOut is also a good time to review and update your emergency-preparedness plans and supplies with your household.

Consider printing and posting these guides in your home: How to prepare your home and family and what to do when an earthquake hits.

Washington Emergency Management Department shared this video of what to do an earthquake happens and you're in a car:

Read this story on what we know about what to expect when it comes to Seattle's high rises when an earthquake hits.

And with many students back to in-person learning, it's worth checking how safe Washington's school buildings are from earthquakes and tsunamis. Here are tips for finding available information.

If you've wondered about getting earthquake insurance, here are a few things you should know.

Looking for more information?

Seismologist Lucy Jones has "been called the Beyoncé of earthquakes, the Meryl Streep of government service, a woman breaking barriers in a man's world," the Los Angeles Times wrote in 2016 when Jones retired from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Before speaking at the University of Washington in March 2018 to make her pitch for better quake preparedness in the Pacific Northwest, Jones answered questions about our dread of earthquakes, why modern building codes aren't as great as most people think and more. Read the Q&A here.

Also, read up on the four key lessons for Seattle and Washington state from the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2011. The earthquake laid waste to much of the city and killed 185 people.

Although Seattle is on the opposite side of the world, the age, building stock and building codes of each city are similar — and so are the shallow faults under them. The Christchurch disaster and the ongoing effort to rebuild left many Seattleites thinking about our earthquake preparedness.

While it's a good idea to think about earthquake preparedness year-round, the ShakeOut is meant to "build muscle memory so you aren't standing around in shock when an earthquake hits," according to the Washington Emergency Management Division.


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