Annual “Great ShakeOut” Earthquake Drill Set for Oct. 19

October 16, 2017  //  

RICHMOND—Fresh off of National Preparedness Month in September, individuals and communities throughout all 50 U.S. states and territories will prepare for the potential impacts of earthquakes through the ninth annual Great ShakeOut earthquake drill Oct. 19.  To date, 19.1 million people in the U.S., and 1.7 million in the southeast, are registered to participate.

Citizens in the southeast and mid-Atlantic states are not immune to earthquakes—the August 2011 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Mineral, Virginia, was felt by one-third of the U.S. population making it the most felt earthquake in U.S. history.

“As we saw last month in Mexico City and, closer to home, in Louisa County in 2011, earthquakes strike with little to no warning. It’s important that all citizens have a plan and are prepared regardless of when an earthquake may strike—whether in the middle of the night or during the day while at school, work or home,” said Jeff Caldwell, External Affairs Director, Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “The Great ShakeOut drill provides schools, businesses and residents with the opportunity to develop an earthquake response plan, practice their response to an earthquake and have a conversation with coworkers, neighbors and family members about earthquake preparedness.”

Held annually on the third Thursday of October, the ShakeOut International Day of Action is set for Thursday, Oct. 19 at 10:19 a.m. During the self-led drill, participants practice how to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.”  For most people, in most situations, the recommended earthquake safety action is to:

  • DROP where you are, onto your hands and knees;
  • COVER your head and neck with one arm and hand, as you crawl for shelter under a nearby table or desk;
  • HOLD ON to your shelter with one hand until shaking stops (remain on your knees and covering your head and neck with your other arm and hand).

Signing up for the drill is free and open-to-the-public. Participants include individuals, schools, businesses, local and state government agencies, and many other groups and organizations. To take part in the drill, individuals and organizations are asked to register to participate at Once registered, participants receive regular information on how to plan their drill and become better prepared for earthquakes and other disasters.

The Great ShakeOut drill in Virginia is coordinated by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, and dozens of other partners. ShakeOut is coordinated globally by the Southern California Earthquake Center in Los Angeles, California.



VDEM works with local government, state and federal agencies and voluntary organizations to provide resources and expertise through the five mission areas of emergency management; prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery. To learn more about ways VDEM is working to improve disaster preparedness, response and recovery, visit

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Virginia Disaster Relief Fund