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How K-12 Schools and Districts Can Participate

Schools have many key roles during disasters, and when they are well prepared everyone benefits. Also, by holding their earthquake drills on the same day, they inspire the participation of many others.

The boxes below describe how schools and districts can plan for their drill, get prepared for earthquakes, and share what they are doing with others.

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US Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano and US Dept. of Education Secretary Duncan Call On Schools And Colleges To Participate In the ShakeOut



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

Between now and October 20:

  • Consider what may happen in a major earthquake and plan what your school will do now to get prepared, so that when it happens you will be able to recover quickly.

  • Talk to other schools and organizations about what they have done, and encourage them to join you in getting more prepared.

  • Encourage teachers to discuss earthquakes ini class, perhaps using simple curricular materials developed for the ShakeOut or by others.

  • Plan your drill using one of the four levels of sample drills in the ShakeOut Drill Manual for Schools (PDF).

  • Download Audio and Video "Drill Broadcast" recordings that have been created to provide instructions during your drill (Video versions have text captions).

October 20, 2022, 10:20 a.m.:

  • Conduct your drill. If you did not choose a drill from the ShakeOut Drill Manual for Schools, then follow these simple steps:

    1. Drop, Cover, and Hold On:    Have your children, staff, and others present at the time 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 they will immediately protect themselves during earthquakes! (See this page for what to do if outside, driving, in a tall building, or other situations. Also, for people who can not drop to the ground, see our ShakeOut Drill Manual for People with Disabilities or Mobility Impairments.)

    2. While still under the table, or wherever they are, have them look around and imagine what would happen in a major earthquake. What would fall on them or others? What would be damaged? What would life be like after? What will your organization do before the actual earthquake happens to reduce losses and quickly recover?

    3. (Optional) Practice what your business will do after the shaking stops.


There are many things that schools and school districts can do to evaluate and increase their earthquake preparedness before the ShakeOut.

Start by downloading a self-survey for your planning purposes to check your current level of preparedness and get ideas on how to better prepare your school or district for our next big quake.

  • Encourage your staff and families to get ready at home and at work: 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 be damaged or cause injury and secure them.

  • Develop, review or exercise your continuity plan with employees to identify and practice their responsibilities.
    • Create or review your employee contact lists and communication plan.
    • Locate utility shut off valves; if appropriate, make sure staff know the location, procedure and responsibilities.
    • Inventory special skills within your organization useful in a disaster (amateur radio operator, search and rescue, etc.)
    • Invite your local Fire Department to a staff meeting to explain earthquake safety practices and demonstrate fire extinguisher use to employees.

  • Organize or refresh your emergency equipment - fire extinguishers, first aid, flashlights, food, crank radios, satellite phones, generator, fuel; make sure staff know the location and how to utilize supplies.

  • Be prepared for the possibility that your employees may need to shelter 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 staff or students needed to remain in your facility for an extended length of time?

  • Identify any structural weaknesses in your building: ask a local earthquake retrofitting contractor for a structural inspection, and develop a plan to address any issues. If you rent your facility, ask the building owner about the state of the building.


  • Invite your students' parents to register their families to participate in the ShakeOut. Use Parent/PTA meetings to spread the word.

  • Record an auto-dial message to parents about your school's participation in the ShakeOut. Use or modify our sample phone script (English and Spanish)

  • Display posters about ShakeOut in classrooms and offices on bulletin boards. Put ShakeOut flyers at your public counters. 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.

  • Hold a meeting among your parents and staff and 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.

  • Design and host preparedness events to encourage your client 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 Central U.S. ShakeOut