2021 Great ShakeOut: Resources for your class, office, or home drills!

New graphics for 2021 showing self-protective actions, including if a table is nearby or if a person uses a wheelchair.

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 as ShakeOut has expanded from southern California, across the U.S., and around the world.

Drop, Cover, and Hold On mobility image in English
Protective actions during earthquakes, including for people with mobility assistance devices; now translated into 14 languages.

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic required new guidance for how to practice earthquake safety, safely. Through collaborating with our partners and stakeholders, we developed special COVID-19 ShakeOut messaging, graphics, and other resources, hosted at ShakeOut.org/covid-19, which has been updated for 2021. along with many other resoruces. Some options include thinking about where people may be for their drills, following COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, and choosing a different or multiple dates to provide social distancing.

Thursday, October 21, is the 2021 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. In addition to practicing earthquake self-protective actions (Drop, Cover, and Hold On if possible; Lock, Cover, and Hold On if using a wheelchair or wheeled walker (see image at right); or other recommended actions), many participants also hold a response or tabletop exercise, a communications test, or practice other aspects of their emergency plans. It is encouraging to see how a simple drill has turned into a much more comprehensive exercise for many.

While global ShakeOut participation in 2020 was about half to two-thirds the record-breaking year of 2019, participation for 2021 is rebounding in the U.S. (more than 1 million additional participants than in 2020, and still growing). Global participation remains diminished. ShakeOut registration data also shows that ShakeOut participants are adding more activities to their ShakeOut plans. For example, many California participants also secure items that could cause damage or injury, or organize and update their disaster supplies.


Download this PSA and other versions at ShakeOut.org/messaging#av, as well as the Earthquake Safety Video Series,
Animations of Earthquake Simulations, and more.).


Higher Education ShakeOut Intro Slide

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

Or join us Thursday morning (10/21), 8:30-11am PDT for the
Great California Online ShakeOut!

Many participants this year may use resources and guidelines we have developed for in-person or remote drills via video-conferencing, 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 (10/21) from 8:30 to 11 am PDT for the “Great California Online ShakeOut” at youtube.com/greatshakeout! We will be joined by special guests, share videos, and provide safety guidance leading up to facilitated drill at 10:21am when everyone will practice how they would protect themselves during a real earthquake.

SCEC's leadership of ShakeOut 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). In 2021, with support for ECA from FEMA and California’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), have updated and created 12 documents that were translated into 14 languages, all with full accessibility elements. SCEC also now coordinates public education and drills for the tsunami community via its creation and management of www.TsunamiZone.org (with support from NOAA provided via Cal OES), 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).

Secure Your Space - cabinet latches
The Secure Your Space campaign (SecureYourSpace.org) encourages people to secure items that could fall or fly during an earthquake, causing injury or damage.


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. Registration for 2022 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.


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.