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Related Resources
Earthquake Podcasts

Listen to an earthquake preparedness podcast with the REMS TA Center and Mark Benthien, Global Coordinator for the Great Earthquake ShakeOut Drills.

Listen Now Read the Transcript


About the Drills

It is important that everyone, everywhere, know how to protect themselves in an earthquake. Even if earthquakes are rare where you live, they may happen where you or your family travel. The REMS TA Center is proud to participate—along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Geological Survey, and our Federal family—in the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills (ShakeOut), an annual opportunity for people in homes, schools, and organizations to practice what to do during earthquakes and to improve preparedness. ShakeOut encourages schools, school districts, state education agencies (SEAs), institutions of higher education (IHEs), and community partners to learn what to do before, during, and after an earthquake and to practice “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” every third Thursday of October. The 2020 ShakeOut will be held at 10:15 a.m. on October 15, 2020.

ShakeOut Regions

The Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill

Before the ShakeOut

Register to Participate

Over 67 million participants were registered in the 2019 ShakeOut, including over 31 million K-12 schools and school districts and 3.9 million colleges and universities. Register your education agency to participate in one of the ShakeOut regions and receive email updates.

Develop an Earthquake Annex

Comprehensive emergency operations plans (EOPs) should contain an Earthquake Annex, if your education agency is vulnerable to this natural hazard. The REMS TA Center created a Sample Earthquake Annex to help schools understand what the structure and content of an annex may include. Ultimately, planning teams should develop their own custom EOPs as they work through the six-step planning process with community partners. EOP ASSIST and the Interactive Workbook are free tools for K-12 schools and school districts to develop a customized and comprehensive EOP, including an Earthquake Annex, according to the process outlined in the Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans and The Role of Districts in Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans.

Plan Your Earthquake Drill

ShakeOut offers resources for K-12 Schools Drill Planning, Educational, and Preparedness and College Registration Guidelines and Participation. You may also find other planning tools for conducting drills at education agencies from the REMS TA Center Tool Box. Use our new search feature and type in “Earthquake” or “Drill.” You may also download and test the audio and video recordings offered for a ShakeOut Drill Broadcast.

Spread the Word

Familiarize your community with “Drop, Cover, and Hold-On” and promote your participation in your community. You may use ShakeOut’s custom flyer for K-12 Schools and School Districts or Colleges and Universities. FEMA also created a downloadable poster in eight languages that is intended for classroom use. ShakeOut also offers Web and Social Banners.

Coordinate with Community Partners

When practicing the Earthquake Annex, schools should include their community partners such as local emergency management staff and first responders who would play a role in an earthquake emergency. In our podcast with Mark Benthien, Global Coordinator for ShakeOut and Director of Communication, Education and Outreach for the Southern California Earthquake Center at University of Southern California, information is presented that schools and districts may want to consider when developing or implementing earthquake-related exercises, including how they can work with their local community to be better prepared for an earthquake. You may also read the transcript.

During the ShakeOut

Practice the Earthquake Annex

By practicing the plan via drills, education agencies and their community partners can act more effectively during a real emergency event. Education agency emergency management planning teams can also identify gaps and weaknesses in the Earthquake Annex to strengthen it accordingly.

Drop, Cover, and Hold On

ShakeOut provides information on how to Drop, Cover, and Hold On in order to reduce injury and death during earthquakes.

Document Your Earthquake Drill

Information captured during the drill can then be analyzed and used to inform future training, exercising, and EOP revision efforts. You may find documentation/observation forms from the REMS TA Center Tool Box Use our new search feature and type in “Earthquake” or “Drill.” The EOP ASSIST software application has a new feature that allows K-12 schools and school districts to upload drill and other exercise information directly into the tool. Documentation of drills and exercises also helps education agencies prove that they have met state and local mandates.

After the ShakeOut

Debrief and Write an After-Action Report

Education agencies can document the results, gaps/shortfalls, and lessons learned in an after-action report, which serves as a wealth of information and can be used to revise the Earthquake Annex. Additionally, this document can serve as proof that the education agency is being active in enhancing the preparedness capacity of the whole campus community. Read more information on the key components of after-action reports and lessons learned from school districts in the publication, After-Action Reports: Capturing Lessons Learned and Identifying Areas for Improvement. Download after-action report examples and resources from the REMS TA Center Tool Box or submit your tools to share with your peers.

Review, Revise, and Maintain the Earthquake Annex

Planning teams should update their EOPs on at least an annual basis. After a drill has taken place can be a great time to at least update the annex that was practiced, if not the entire EOP. Other opportunities for EOP revision include the generation of new information from ongoing assessments; actual emergencies; and changes in policy, personnel, organizational structures, processes, facilities, or equipment.

Engage in Earthquake Training Opportunities

Watch the archived Webinar, Integrating Earthquakes Into School Emergency Operations Plans, to learn about how to lessen the potential impact of an earthquake, encourage personal preparedness at home, and identify resource needs. Request to host the in-person Earthquake Preparedness for Schools Train-the-Educator at your site via our Training by Request program. This day-long training helps schools and school districts better prepare for an earthquake.

Share Your Success

Make sure that your locality, leadership, and whole campus community knows that you participated in ShakeOut to enhance your earthquake preparedness. On social media, please tag @remstacenter (Twitter), @ShakeOut (Twitter), and @GreatShakeOut (Instagram/Facebook) and use #ShakeOut. Share strategies and lessons learned with your peers via the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills forum on the REMS TA Center Community of Practice.

Conduct a Site Assessment

Use the REMS TA Center’s free mobile application, SITE ASSESS, to examine the safety, security, accessibility, and emergency preparedness of your education agency’s buildings and grounds. This activity simultaneously documents the condition of buildings and grounds before an emergency event occurs, which can help education agencies obtain reimbursement for damages incurred from earthquakes and other emergency events. Once areas of improvement are identified, education agencies can retrofit their facilities and engage in mitigation using resources listed in the REMS TA Center’s K-12 Site Assessment Resources and Institution of Higher Education (IHE) Site Assessment Resources.

Incorporate Earthquake Preparedness Into the Curriculum

Educators can integrate earthquake preparedness and earthquake science lesson plans into classroom curricula. FEMA developed Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP) for grades 4-5 that contains a lesson on earthquakes, as well as Tremor Troop for grades K-6 and Seismic Sleuths for grades 7-12. There are also storybooks available, such as FEMA’s The Adventures of Terry the Turtle and Gracie the Wonder Dog for grades 3-6 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Ready Wrigley Prepares for Earthquakes. Education agencies can also establish Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Campus CERT programs to engage students and enhance youth and individual preparedness. These materials and programs directly connect to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and career and technical education (CTE) initiatives. Also, educators can use their substitute plans as a foundation for their continuity of teaching and learning planning. By creating a unit plan with a few lesson plans that complement and supplement the existing curriculum, educators can be prepared for 5-10 school days.