Exciting news! We're transitioning to the Statewide California Earthquake Center. Our new website is under construction, but we'll continue using this website for SCEC business in the meantime. We're also archiving the Southern Center site to preserve its rich history. A new and improved platform is coming soon!

SCEC Provides Online Options for 2020 ShakeOut Participation

Example of social media messaging for how to adapt ShakeOut drills in 2020 for COVID-19

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. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to bring many challenges. As we planned to support ShakeOut registrants in 2020, we knew we would need new messaging and resources for COVID-19. We also knew that we could also help inspire and encourage people to have a grip on, or even improve, their preparedness and mitigation plans for earthquakes, tsunamis, and other disasters. Through collaborating with our partners and stakeholders, we developed special COVID-19 / ShakeOut messaging, graphics, and other resources, hosted at ShakeOut.org/covid-19. Some options for registrants' consideration include thinking about where people may be for their drills, following COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, and choosing a different or multiple dates.

In 2019, the global ShakeOut collaboration resulted in record-breaking participation in 2019, with more than 67.5 million people around the world participating in earthquake drills, including more than 21 million people in the United States. This year, we have been surprised at the level of registration as ShakeOut registrants adapt their plans and still commit to participating. More than 12 million people in the United States are still expected to be involved in 2020, as a part of more than 28 million worldwide!

Higher Education ShakeOut Intro Slide

Download NEW simple Presentations for Leading
Higher Education & Other Online or In-Person Drills.

Or join us Thursday morning (10/15) for the
Great Online ShakeOut!

Thursday, October 15, is the 2020 International ShakeOut Day, when most participants will practice earthquake safety (drills may also be held on other days). Some may have in-person group drills, videoconferencing drills, or a mix thereof. For man over the years and now, 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.

Many participants this year may use resources and guidelines we have developed, including simple drill leader presentations for Grades K-4, Grades 5-12, Higher Education, and for other Organizations.  No ShakeOut plans yet? Join us on Thursday morning (10/15) for the “Great Online ShakeOut” at facebook.com/greatshakeout/live with special guests, videos, and drill instructions leading up to 10:15am in each time zone (ET, CT, MT, & PT) when everyone will Drop, Cover, and Hold On

Through its coordination of Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills, SCEC has developed many successful partnerships with state, territory, national/federal, and international leaders. For example, in September our partner FLASH (Federal Allaince for Safe Homes) interviewed SCEC CEO DIrector Mark Benthien for their "Strong Homes, Safe Families!" Podcast. And we have expanded ShakeOut participation over the years due to new collaborations with countries such as Mexico, Iran, Japan, and New Zealand.

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

This leadership has also led to the international dissemination of many messaging resources developed by SCEC and the SCEC-led Earthquake Country Alliance (especially the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety and self-protective action guidance, including for people with disabilities).  SCEC also now coordinates similar public education and drills for the tsunami community via its creation and management of www.TsunamiZone.org (with support from NOAA provided via California’s Office of Emergency Services), which provides resources and registration (similar to ShakeOut) for west Coast and pacific states and territories, and for the Carribean including the Puerto Rico and USVI territories (and many countries).

These activities are examples of how SCEC has become known as a trusted and reliable “backbone organization” among many community leaders, organizations, and regional partnerships. This role is one of five “key elements” of the Collective Impact Framework [Kania, John, and Mark Kramer. "Collective Impact." Stanford Social Innovation Review 9, no. 1 (Winter 2011): 36–41.]. This framework provides a useful structure to describe how ShakeOut has built extensive local, national, and international collaboration.


ShakeOut Drill Broadcast Narration (with sound effects).

As we look forward to the future of Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills, 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. We know that many more will join the movement to be prepared to survive and recover from earthquakes. Registration for 2021 ShakeOut drills will be open in early January. We’re all in this together!


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





Key Resources:


About the Authors

Mark Benthien is SCEC's Director for Communication, Education, and Outreach. In this role he communicates earthquake knowledge in order to increase awareness, reduce economic losses, and save lives, often in coordination with members of the Earthquake Country Alliance, for which Mark serves as Executive Director. He was recognized in 2012 by the White House as a “Champion of Change” for his role in managing the California ShakeOut and also supporting the many other states and countries who now participate.
Jason Ballmann Jason serves as Communications Manager for SCEC, where he champions SCEC science to help people better prepare to survive and recover from earthquakes. Notably, Jason helps to coordinate Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills, TsunamiZone.org, Earthquake Country Alliance, and other science, risk, and crisis communications objectives through social media, email, media relations, web, and events. He draws on fields such as marketing, advertising, and social science to improve SCEC's reach and impact, and also leads the GeoHazards Messaging Collaboratory effort, a partnership effort between the USGS, NOAA, IRIS, UNAVCO, and FEMA.


The Southern California Earthquake Center is funded by NSF Cooperative Agreement EAR-1600087 and USGS Cooperative Agreement G17AC00047. Additional national support for ShakeOut coordination is provided by FEMA Cooperative Agreement EMW-2019-CA-00026 and FEMA Grant EMW-2020-CA-00021.



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.