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The Great Southern California ShakeOut
The Great Southern California ShakeOut

What College/University Faculty Can Do


We're all in this together-- the more you do to prepare now, before a big earthquake, the better all our lives will be after. And with your participation, ShakeOut will be the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history!

Here are some of the things schools can do to participate in the ShakeOut, to promote participating in the ShakeOut, and to prepare for big earthquakes.

Participate in the ShakeOut:

  • Today:   Register your school or district to be counted in the ShakeOut Drill, get email updates, and more.

  • Between now and November 13:
    • Meet with your School Safety Committee to plan your drill. Include everyone on campus. Put the drill on the School’s Master Calendar and internal website so everyone will know about it.

    • Review the Drop, Cover, and Hold On procedure in your school’s Safety Plan with all staff. Identify any assignments in the Plan that need to be updated. Does everyone know their role following an earthquake?

  • November 13, 10 a.m.:
    1. Drop, Cover, and Hold On:    Have your faculty, staff, and students Drop to the ground, take Cover under a table or desk, and Hold On to it as if a magnitude 7.8 earthquake were happening (stay down for at least 60 seconds). Practice now so your staff and students will know immediately how to protect themselves during earthquakes! (See this page for what to do if outside, driving, in a tall building, or other situations. See this page for what to do if you have a disability or an activity limitation.)

    2. While still under the table, or wherever you are, look around and imagine what would happen in a big earthquake, when shaking may last for 1-2 minutes! What would fall on you or others? What would be damaged? What would life be like afterwards? What will you do before the actual earthquake happens to reduce losses and quickly recover?

    3. Finally, practice what your school will do after the shaking stops.

      (Detailed drill suggestions will be provided to registered participants.)

  • November 14:   Attend the Get Ready Rally to learn more and share stories about the ShakeOut drill. Encourage faculty, staff, and students to also attend.

  • November 14-16:   Complete your disaster plan or supply kits and organize or participate in a local preparedness event.

Promote the ShakeOut:

  • Invite your students and staff to register as individuals or families to participate in the ShakeOut. Use dorm, club, staff, or activity meetings to spread the word. Students can also encourage their parents to participate even if they are outside of Southern California as earthquakes happen all over the U.S.

  • Display posters about ShakeOut in classrooms and offices on bulletin boards. Put ShakeOut flyers at your public counters and in student activity centers. Include a flyer in paycheck envelopes, or an article in your school newsletter.

  • Hold a meeting among your faculty and staff to share personal and family preparedness information and discuss what individuals and their families can do to ShakeOut. Have everyone register while at the meeting, especially those without internet access.

  • Once your school (as a school organization) is registered, you will receive ShakeOut preparedness tips, event updates, and more. Forward these to your faculty and staff and ask them to register as an individual, so they can forward these e-mails to everyone who matters to them. With your help your school can become more earthquake ready and play a major role in the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history!

  • Design and host preparedness events to encourage your broader community to join the ShakeOut and prepare for disasters. Create alliances with other organizations to make the event a bigger success.

Prepare for earthquakes:

What we do now, before the earthquake, will determine what our lives will be like afterwards.

  • Encourage your staff and faculty to get ready: The Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety is a good source for things individuals and families can do to prepare.

  • Do a facility inspection for non-structural items (bookshelves, equipment, etc.) that might fall and injure students, faculty, and staff. Move or secure these items to provide a safer teaching environment.

  • Develop, review or exercise your Continuity of Operations/Business Continuity plan with employees to identify and practice their responsibilities.
    • Create or review your employee contact lists and communication plan, updating as needed.
    • Locate utility shut off valves; make sure employees know the location, procedure and responsibilities.
    • Inventory special skills within your school that would be useful in a disaster (amateur radio operator, search and rescue, EMT, etc.)
    • Invite your local Fire Department to your next meeting to explain earthquake safety practices and demonstrate fire extinguisher use to employees.
    • Include your critical need vendors in disaster planning. Create post-disaster agreements for key products and services.

  • Check the school’s emergency supplies to make sure they are accessible and functional. Organize or refresh your emergency equipment - fire extinguishers, first aid, flashlights, batteries, food, water, hand-powered radios, satellite phones, generator, fuel; make sure staff know the location and how to utilize supplies. Need information? Check the American Red Cross website.

  • Be prepared for the possibility that your students, faculty, and staff may need to remain in place for 2 – 3 days.
    • Store at least one gallon of water per person, per day.
    • What other supplies might you need if transportation routes were blocked and students, faculty or staff needed to remain in your facility for an extended length of time?
  • Identify any structural weaknesses in your school buildings, especially if you are at a public or private university that may not be subject to stricter state guidelines of the Field Act. Ask an experienced earthquake retrofitting contractor or engineer for a structural inspection, and develop a plan to address issues. If you rent your facility, ask the building owner or manager about the state of the building.

  • Learn to access and use California Integrated Seismic Network earthquake tools. CISN identifies the strength and location of earthquakes to assist you in making response decisions.

  • Consider first responder and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training for your staff.

  • Provide non-English speaking members of your community with written preparedness information in their language.

© 2008 Southern California Earthquake Center @