Main Content

Annual “Great ShakeOut” Earthquake Drill Set for October 17

Release date: 
October 16, 2019
Release Number: 

ShakeOut Infographic
<p>ShakeOut Infographic</p> Download Original



PHILADELPHIA – The annual Great ShakeOut earthquake drill will take place Oct. 17 at 10:17 a.m. across the United States and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region III office wants to encourage the Whole Community to participate and learn the simple but critical safety steps to preparing for and staying safe during an earthquake. The Great ShakeOut is the largest earthquake drill worldwide and over 65 million people are already registered to practice their earthquake safety plans. We encourage everyone to Drop, Cover, and Hold On with us on Oct. 17.

Earthquakes are normally thought of as a west coast hazard, but they can happen anywhere, such as the 2011 earthquake in Virginia. Worldwide there is an average of one damaging earthquake almost every third day. “Damaging earthquakes can occur at any time – where we work, live or travel,” stated FEMA Region III Regional Administrator MaryAnn Tierney. “To be best prepared to respond quickly, we must practice earthquake safety on a regular basis. The Great ShakeOut provides an excellent opportunity to practice our earthquake preparedness skills together.”

To help people to prepare and participate, FEMA Region III produced a white board video highlighting the steps to practice for the Great ShakeOut. The Great ShakeOut also produces additional videos that address how to protect yourself from earthquakes in a number of scenarios – whether an earthquake strikes while you are in your home, car, bed or elsewhere.

The Great ShakeOut is set for Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, at 10:17 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).

The Great ShakeOut is free and open to the public. Participants include individuals, schools, businesses, local and state government agencies, and many other groups. To take part in the ShakeOut, register to participate at Once registered, you’ll receive regular information on how to plan your drill and become better prepared for earthquakes and other disasters.

More than 1.6 million people will participate in this event in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, joining Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills occurring throughout the nation and in several countries. More than 65 million people around the globe are expected to participate. In addition to safety drills, many participants take extra steps to become more prepared for earthquakes or other disasters.

The Great ShakeOut is nationally sponsored by the United States Geological Survey, FEMA, and the National Science Foundation and is supported by dozens of other partners. The Great ShakeOut is coordinated globally by the Southern California Earthquake Center.

For more information, please visit For additional earthquake information, please visit

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at and Follow us on Twitter at


Last Updated: 
October 16, 2019 - 13:56