Damage from the Jan. 7, 2020, 6.4 Magnitude earthquake in Ponce, Puerto Rico. (Photo by Liz Roll/FEMA)

ShakeOut 2020: Staying Safe When the Ground Starts to Rumble

When the ground shakes, what do you do? ShakeOut 2020:  Drop, Cover, and Hold On!

U.S. Geological Survey scientists have determined that nearly half of Americans are exposed to potentially damaging earthquakes based on where they work and live. Still others will be at risk when traveling. Everyone everywhere should know how to protect themselves during an earthquake.

Millions of people participated in Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills worldwide today. During the drill, participants practiced “Drop, Cover and Hold On.” This is the recommended safety action to take during an earthquake.

What’s Your Exposure to Earthquake Shaking?

To learn about your exposure to ground shaking from an earthquake near you, check out the 2018 USGS National Seismic Hazard Maps. These maps reflect the best and most current understanding of where future earthquakes will occur, how often they will occur and how hard the ground will likely shake as a result.

(USGS)

USGS Science in ShakeOut

The USGS also develops earthquake scenarios that help shape preparedness exercises such as the ShakeOut. USGS earthquake research helps emergency managers understand where earthquakes occur and provides valuable information about the potential damages and losses.

The original ShakeOut was based on a comprehensive analysis of a major earthquake in southern California known as “The ShakeOut Scenario.” That project, completed in 2008, was led by the USGS and many partners as a demonstration of how science can be applied to reduce risks related to natural hazards. The concept and organization of a public drill came out of the collaboration between the USGS, the Southern California Earthquake Center and other partners of the Earthquake Country Alliance.

The success of the 2008 ShakeOut drill inspired other states and countries to want to participate. The third Thursday of October each year is now International ShakeOut Day, with more countries joining each year. ShakeOut’s growth is coordinated by the Southern California Earthquake Center (which also manages ShakeOut websites globally) with the support of many agencies and partners across the nation, including the USGS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium and several others.

ShakeAlert – Earthquake Early Warning

Last year, the USGS commemorated the 30th anniversary of one of the most destructive earthquake disasters in U.S. history – the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The magnitude 6.9 quake struck October 17 in the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area near Santa Cruz and was responsible for the deaths of 63 people and more than 3,500 injuries. That event also marks the beginning of many years of intense work developing and testing what would ultimately become the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning system.

In 2019, in coordination with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, the USGS commenced testing of the public delivery of earthquake alerts to wireless devices in California. In 2020, over sixty alert delivery partners in California, Oregon, and Washington operate a variety of applications that are powered by data from the ShakeAlert system. Oregon and Washington plan to roll out alert delivery to wireless devices sometime in 2021.

The backbone of an earthquake early warning system is a widespread and robust network of seismometers. In the United States, the first regional seismic networks were begun by research institutions and universities like Caltech; University of California, Berkeley; and the University of Washington.

Learn More

The USGS provides rapid alerts of potential impacts from an earthquake through its Prompt Assessment of Global Earthquakes for Response system. Sign up to receive earthquake notices through the USGS Earthquake Notification System. If you feel an earthquake, report your experience on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website.

Learn how to prepare at home using the 7 Steps to Earthquake Safety from the guidebook “Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country,” written for different areas of the country and available in several languages.

Read more at USGS

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