Earthquake preparation: The Great Idaho Shakeout

Ada City-County Emergency Management
At 10:20 a.m., Oct. 20, thousands of Idahoans will all be dropping to the floor simultaneously.

The Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Idaho Department of Education, is conducting the Great Idaho Shakeout. The goal of the Shakeout is to familiarize everyone on the “Drop, Cover and Hold” method for personal safety during an earthquake and to practice the technique.

During the drill, participants will immediately drop to the floor, get under a desk or table and place one arm over their head while holding onto the furniture with the other. These are the recommended steps to take if you are inside a building during an earthquake. Following these simple steps will reduce your chances of injury during the event.

Why drop, cover and hold?
Earthquakes occur without warning and may be so violent that it is difficult or even impossible to run, walk or crawl. The ground movement can knock people down, so it is safer to drop yourself to the ground instead of being thrown there. In the United States, the greatest danger is from falling or flying objects.

Studies over the last several decades have shown that people are far more likely to be injured from unsecured objects falling ( i.e. TV, lamp, glass, bookcase etc.) than to die in a building collapse. In earthquake-prone areas of the U.S. and many other countries, strict building codes have greatly reduced the potential of collapse.

The exception to this rule is if you are in a structure that has not been engineered to withstand seismic activity. Old buildings, especially those made of unreinforced masonry or adobe (mud-brick), may not be safe. In this case, it is best to get outside and away from the building as safely as you can.

How to participate

Before the shakeout drill
Everyone is encouraged to participate. Schools, businesses, families and local governments can register to participate in the drill at:

Educational materials about earthquakes and the Shakeout Drill procedures are available online at:
Shakeout Drill Manuals
Earthquakes In Idaho

Please practice the procedures before the drill.
Download any needed materials before the drill.

During the shakeout drill
At 10:20 a.m. on Oct. 20 announce the earthquake simulation has begun.

  • Play downloaded quake sound effects. This mp3 is available at: Quake Sound Effects
  • Perform the practiced procedures of Drop, Cover, Hold. Remain under cover throughout the duration of the quake sound effects or for one minute if the sound effects are not used.
  • Conduct the post quake activities outlined in the Shakeout Drill manual for your type of organization.

Drop, cover and hold alternatives
Being inside a building during an earthquake does not necessarily mean there will be furniture available to take cover under. If no cover is available, the recommendation is to get low on the floor next to an interior wall. Once there, cover your head and neck with your arms and hands. If you are in bed when the earthquake occurs, stay there and protect your head and neck with a pillow.

Windows, facades or other architectural details often are the first part of a building to collapse. If you are outside, move to a clear area if you can safely do so and drop to the ground. Avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings and vehicles.

Published 10-7-2011