Join the Great ShakeOut Annual Drill and Learn how to Protect Yourself During an Earthquake

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Over the last few years, there have been major earthquakes in many parts of the world. Whether you’re at home, work, school or traveling in an earthquake-prone area, you should know how to protect yourself during an earthquake. 

Earthquake and Wind Programs Senior Manager Jon Foster knows that when you practice what to do ahead of time, you are more likely to respond instinctively with the correct action during an emergency. That’s one of the reasons Foster looks forward to the Great ShakeOut Annual Drill every year. 

This year, the drill will be held on Oct. 19 at 10:19 (local time). You can join millions of people across the world practicing earthquake safety. Foster will be a guest lecturer at his daughter’s elementary school in Virginia. This will be his third year hosting the event at the school. He will teach students in grades 1-3 to practice, “Drop, cover and hold on.”

We spent a few minutes talking with Foster about the lifesaving lesson he is sharing with these students.  

Elementary school kids "Drop, cover and hold on" during the 2022 Great ShakeOut Annual Drill. 

What do you enjoy about hosting the annual event at your daughter's school?

Knowing that this event has evolved over the years from one class of about 20 kids to three grades totaling close to 300 participants is a great feeling. The school and children are excited to learn about earthquake safety and what to do before, during and after an earthquake. 

Having so many kids engage in the exercise, ask great questions and be very attentive during the discussion makes this a fun event for everyone involved. Also, they love the ShakeOut stickers, and it’s evident when they walk out of the cafeteria with new “bling” on their notebooks and ShakeOut branded water bottles. 

I also have the best assistant as my daughter helps me with the presentation and shows how to appropriately drop, cover and hold on. 

As a program manager with a focus on earthquake awareness, planning and funding, what do you see as critical in earthquake preparedness? 

Open communication, transparency, and collaboration are a few things that come to mind. Earthquake risk continues to rise in the United States at a much faster pace given the rapid growth in human and economic exposure complemented by the fact that much larger fractions of built assets are in high earthquake hazard areas. 

Lots of great mitigation work is done when FEMA, states/territories and partners work together towards a shared goal of reducing the risk of death, injury and property damage resulting from earthquakes.

Caption: <p>Man points to large poster in front of an assembly of kids.  </p>
FEMA's Jon Foster talks about the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill to a group of elementary school kids in 2022. 

Why should someone participate in this drill?

Participating in this annual drill is very important whether you live in a low-risk area or a high-risk area since earthquakes can happen anywhere at any time. Being prepared for an earthquake and knowing what to do during an earthquake will help you be ready to respond and improve your knowledge and skills of earthquake safety. 

Nearly half of the U.S. population is exposed to potentially damaging earthquakes. The drill, which was designed to raise awareness, is an annual international emergency response exercise for earthquake safety and preparedness conducted every third Thursday of October. The Great ShakeOut provides communities with an opportunity to prepare, plan and educate citizens on earthquake safety. The drill is just one of many ways to advocate for a more prepared and resilient nation, and to be ready for tomorrow’s challenges.

The drill is also important because it prepares individuals for the challenges they may face that are unique to their situation. 

How can others participate?

You can participate in the Great ShakeOut Annual Drill on Thursday, Oct. 19 at 10:19 a.m. local time. Let’s do our part to help safeguard our families, our communities and our nation from devastating earthquakes. 

Take the time now and text “ShakeOut” to 43362 to get earthquake information from FEMA or register to participate at

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