Washington will be part of a nationwide earthquake drill on Thursday and residents are encouraged to drop, cover and hold on for 60 seconds at 10:18 a.m.

“It follows on a model that’s been really successful in other states — primarily in California,” said Anne Egger, a Central Washington University professor of geological sciences. 

The drill is called the Great Washington ShakeOut. The concept started in California about 10 years ago and has engaged millions of people, Egger said.

“We really saw it as an opportunity to help people not only to get prepared … and also learn more about earthquakes,” Egger said. 

This is the first statewide earthquake drill for Washington. A group of CWU undergraduate and graduate students studying geological sciences are doing earthquake presentations in Ellensburg elementary schools, and the schools plan to participate in the drill Thursday morning. 


Other local events associated with the Great Washington ShakeOut are a free lecture on Wednesday and a research focus seminar on Friday. Greg Beroza, a geophysicist and professor at Stanford, will give a free talk at 7 p.m. Wednesday about how policy and science intersect in dealing with earthquakes. The talk is in Hertz Hall on the CWU campus. 

At noon on Friday Mike Brudzinski, a professor at Miami University of Ohio who studies slip earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, will lead a free research seminar in Lind Hall, Room 104. 

At CWU, the drill will involve the use of the university’s Alert! emergency messaging system. Campus police will send out an alert as if an earthquake hit. The messages will alert the campus community on cell phones and computers and remind students, faculty and staff what to do in an earthquake.

How to join

Anyone can participate in the earthquake drill on Thursday. People should drop to the floor, cover their heads and necks, and hold on for 60 seconds. 

“The most important thing is to protect your head and neck,” Egger said. “Get down into a stable position — that’s the drop part. Have your hands behind your head and neck to protect them. Then, hold on if there’s something you can grab onto, and wait until the shaking stops. That can be long or short.”

Researchers can learn something from every earthquake and fault event that happens, Egger said. Raising people’s awareness, hopefully, will decrease tragedy when large earthquakes occur, she said. 

 To be counted for participating in the statewide drill, register online at  www.shakeout.org/washington. More than 610,000 people had signed up as of Sunday night. 

The ShakeOut is organized by the Washington Military Department Emergency Management Division, Washington State Emergency Management Association, the Seismic Safety Committee, the state Department of Natural Resources and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


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