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Colleges and Universities

Californians must get better prepared before the next big earthquake, and practice how to protect ourselves when it happens. The purpose of the ShakeOut is to help people and organizations do both.

Scroll down for basic instructions for how all post-secondary institutions including public and private colleges and universities, and also trade/vocational schools, can plan their drill, tips for getting prepared, and suggestions for sharing the ShakeOut with others. With your participation, this may be the largest earthquake drill ever!

Other ways to participate:
Which colleges and universities


David Bowman at the San Andreas Fault

Earthquake scientist Dr. David Bowman is proud of the collaboration among faculty and staff he helped organize at Cal State Fullerton for the 2008 ShakeOut, with a goal of having a more resilient campus. The Geology Department hosted a "Get Ready Rally" a few days before the drill to raise awareness, and the University held a full-scale campus-wide drill on ShakeOut day. After the Drop, Cover and Hold On drill, a campus-wide building evacuation was held. Bowman attributes the preparations for ShakeOut to having made the University a safer place.



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

Between now and October 20:

October 20, 10:20 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 major 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.) For people with disabilities or access and functional needs, download our earthquake safety tips (PDF).

  2. While still under the table, or wherever you are, look around and imagine what would happen in a major earthquake. 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. (Optional) Practice what your school will do after the shaking stops. You can also distribute the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety for College Students.

  4. After your drill is complete, have discussions about what was learned and incorporate these lessons into your disaster plan.


Seven Steps

What we do now, before the next big 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 how to reduce nonstructural hazards in schools

  • 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.


  • 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 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.

  • Tell everyone to watch "Preparedness Now", a compelling film that depicts what will happen in a "big one," and other videos.

  • Inform faculty and staff about ShakeOut Educational Resources for use in class prior to the ShakeOut.

  • 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 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.
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The Great California ShakeOut