Bridget Bean, Senior Official Performing the Duties of Deputy Administrator for Resilience at FEMA, shares why she believes participating in the Great ShakeOut can help save lives.
When the ground shakes beneath your feet, fear and uncertainty might overwhelm you. Knowing what to do can keep you calm and ready in any situation. That is why, each year, FEMA participates in the Great ShakeOut, a global earthquake preparedness drill. By registering and participating in this annual drill, you can practice how to be safer during earthquakes.
While the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought many uncertainties and challenges, one thing's for sure: ShakeOut is still happening! This year, the drill will be held at 10:15 a.m. on October 15. At this specific time in each time zone, millions of people from all over the world will practice the earthquake safety steps ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On.’ With over 67 million people across the globe registered for this event in 2019, it is incumbent upon us as emergency managers to not only participate, but to encourage our communities to join as well.
As always, this drill can be on your schedule when, where and how you want, whether at home, work, school or perhaps through a video conference while working or taking online classes. The location for your ShakeOut activity may look different this year, but there has always been flexibility in how and when you would like to hold your drill. While some ShakeOut drills and other activities may happen just like in past years, there are some new considerations to keep in mind this year:
- Where will you be for your drill? Together at work, school or home? Consider video conferencing or other virtual options.
- How will you incorporate COVID-19 health and safety guidelines into your activity?
- Is it better to have everyone participate all at once, or perhaps do so in staggered (or even repeated) dates and times?
This is also a great opportunity to take the next step and update your emergency plans and supplies while securing your space to prevent damage and injuries. Knowing what to do before a big earthquake will determine how well you respond and recover.
Lately, it seems each day we are confronting new challenges while natural disasters continue to occur across the country. The coronavirus pandemic has changed our routines and how we live. At the same time, a record-breaking wildfire season has caused devastation out West, and the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has left terrible destruction along the Gulf Coast. During all of this, seismic activity has not stopped, with significant U.S. earthquakes occurring in Utah, Idaho, and North Carolina during the last few months and in Puerto Rico earlier this year.
With all that is happening around us, it is clearer perhaps now more than ever that our Nation must be ready for disasters on a federal, community and family level. The Great ShakeOut can provide some peace of mind by preparing us for what can come and reminding us of what we can do when we work together.