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Our Collective Impact: Record-Breaking ShakeOut Participation in 2019!

Biola University Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members practice transporting an injured person during their 2019 ShakeOut full-scale exercise.

SCEC's Communication, Education, and Outreach program has coordinated Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills since 2008, in partnership with local, national, and international colleagues and organizations.

Drop, Cover, and Hold On mobility image in English
Protective actions during earthquakes, including for people with mobility assistance devices.

This collaboration resulted in record-breaking participation in 2019, with more than 67.5 million people around the world participating in earthquake drills, up from 63.5 million in 2018. However, we still have much more to do to achieve ShakeOut's mission of everyone, everywhere being prepared to survive and recover from damaging earthquakes. As in the original ShakeOut Scenario, this is a story we are still writing.

"Earthquakes can happen in any community at any time," said Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Acting Administrator Pete Gaynor. "I encourage everyone to participate in ShakeOut because it's a quick and easy way to get the training needed to keep you safe in the event of an earthquake.”

Most ShakeOut drills are held on the third Thursday of October, a day now known as International ShakeOut Day, however you can hold a ShakeOut activity on any day that works for your organization, community, or family. For many, it’s about more than just Drop, Cover, and Hold On; they hold a response or tabletop exercise, communications test,  secure items that could fall or fly, and update disaster kits or insurance policies. It is encouraging to see how a simple drill has turned into a full exercise for many, or an opportunity to do more.

Mayor Breed (San Francisco) holds ShakeOut promo frameSan Francisco Mayor London Breed holds ShakeOut "selfie" frame while visiting Rosa Parks Elementary on ShakeOut day.

To encourage and expand participation each year, SCEC staff support ShakeOut Official Region Coordinators across the U.S. (in partnership with FEMA) and around the world with tools, strategies, and resources for recruitment, communications, and outreach materials. In this capacity SCEC is the "backbone organization" of ShakeOut, as described in the Collective Impact framework. This year there was significant usage of the ShakeOut "Coordinator’s Portal," which has allowed for many regional coordinators to target outreach to their populations needing to renew or register for the first time. Through the SCEC-administered Earthquake Country Alliance and its many subject matter experts, we also maintain and develop the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety and other educational materials. Many countries around the world take advantage of these and other comprehensive campaign resources and spur the action their communities need, providing a global consistency in messaging and encouraging new conversations about earthquake safety, both which are in line with social science research about what motivates action. The growth of ShakeOut and the application of these best practices has developed SCEC's reputation as a global authority on earthquake preparedness and mitigation.

ShakeOut social science principles graphic.
ShakeOut is based on many years of social science research on motivating preparedness actions by Dennis Mileti (Colorado), Michele Wood (CSU Fullerton), Linda Bourque (UCLA), and others

Out of the global 67.5 million participants in 2019, 21.7 million were across the United States, including 10.8 million in California alone. These are all record-setting levels of participation! California has now doubled the level of participation in the original ShakeOut in 2008 (5.4 million), which was based on the USGS-led ShakeOut Scenario for which SCEC provided supercomputer-based ground motion simulations.

"Preparedness Now" is a film depiction of the USGS ShakeOut Earthquake Scenario by Art Center College of Design alumnus, Theo Alexopoulos.

SCEC Co-Director Greg Beroza (Stanford) interviewed live in a Jumpstart earthquake simulator in San Francisco on ShakeOut day.

More than 28,000 news stories mentioned ShakeOut this fall, a testament to the great reach of the campaign (such visibility is estimated to be equivalent to $2.8 million in advertising). This is the result of SCEC-developed media outreach resources shared by many partners who all promote awareness and participation, local media engagement across the country and in other ShakeOut regions, and the campaign's naturally inclusive, grassroots feel. The stories demonstrate that millions are happy to take a part in what they see as a simple step toward more community resilience. It’s a two-way street; we incorporate feedback by media, partners, and the public - and especially social scientists - to make everything better each year. In addition, #ShakeOut trended on Twitter across the country and in major cities as people shared pictures, videos, and stories about their drills. Everyone is a stakeholder. Everyone makes it their own. Everyone, everywhere should know how to protect themselves during earthquakes.

As we look forward to the future of Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills, we know that many more will join the movement to be prepared to survive and recover from earthquakes. Registration for 2020 ShakeOut drills will be open in early January. Learn how you can participate, and visit the ShakeOut Frequently Asked Questions page for other details including a listing of future International ShakeOut Day dates (10/15 in 2020).  We’re all in this together!

ShakeOut Global Web Banner No Date, called ShakeOut Don't Freak out



Select 2019 ShakeOut Related Articles:


Washington Post: California launches earthquake early warning system 30 years after deadly San Francisco tremor

Reuters: California Launches Earthquake Early Warning System It Calls Best in World

CBS News: Calendar: Week of October 14

CNN: Start Your Monday Smart

KABC: Great California ShakeOut 2019: 10.7 million Californians participate in annual earthquake drill

Seattle Times: Statewide earthquake drill Thursday reminds us all to drop, cover and hold on

The Oregonian: 4.7 magnitude quake jostles southern Oregon coast on the same day as statewide earthquake drill

SFGate: Mayor Breed Joins Hundreds Of Students To Practice Earthquake Safety Drill

The Toronto Star: Massive ‘ShakeOut’ earthquake drill to take place in B.C. Thursday morning. Here’s what you need to know

Madison Park Times: Leschi students get down for ShakeOut, Statewide earthquake drill part of ongoing emergency preparedness campaign

Santa Clarita Valley Signal: ShakeOut reminds residents to prepare for earthquakes

KESQ: CCHS Creates Full Disaster Enactment for Great California Shakeout

Ketchikan Daily News: ‘Drop, cover, and hold on’: ‘Great Alaska ShakeOut’ drill teaches earthquake safety skills


Key Resources:



Reporters seeking interviews and other information
should email SCEC's media contacts and consult SCEC.org/media.


We study why and how earthquakes occur, evaluate their effects, 

and help societies prepare to survive and recover. 

SCEC is headquartered at the University of Southern California with a 

community of more than 1,000 scientists across 75 institutions.