Unit 7, Public Education

Earthquakes are a natural disaster that can affect many parts of our country as well as around the world.  Knowing the correct course of action when one occurs is vital to protect your own life.  The ShakeOut Campaign was implemented to educate the public on what to do when an earthquake occurs.  They partner with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the US Geological Survey, the National Science Foundation, and the American Red Cross as well as many other local and national partners.  The ShakeOut began in 2008 in Southern California to educate the public on how to protect themselves and how to be prepared during a big earthquake to survive.   On November 12, 2008, the largest earthquake drill in history at that time occurred with 5.3 million people participating.  Today there are now more than 20 Official ShakeOut Regions in the United States and around the world.

ShakeOut Day occurs in October annually, but can be practiced anytime.  The Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill occurs at 10:18 a.m. on October 18, 2018.  “Stop, Cover, and Hold On”, according to emergency managers, researchers, and school safety advocates, is what you need to do to reduce injuries and deaths during an earthquake.  Knowing what to do when shaking begins and practicing these in drills can help to cement this in your mind when the shaking does occur. 

Anyone can participate in this earthquake drill with many school districts, colleges, businesses, and various organizations participating each year.  To prepare and promote the drills, many resources are available such as posters, flyers, messaging, still graphics, Earthquake Safety Guides, and videos.  The slogan “Stop, Cover and Hold On” is a catchy phrase that tends to stick in your mind and can help you remember what you need to do when the earth starts shaking.   Having schools involved and teaching the children at a young age the immediate action to take when shaking occurs can make a tremendous difference in injuries and deaths.  The number of people participating continues to expand each year with more people participating and learning the do’s and don’ts of an earthquake disaster.  In 2017, there were over 58 million participants worldwide, almost ten times at many as in 2008 when ShakeOut Earthquake Drill first began. 

While looking at the registration for 2018 Great Earthquake Drill, I noticed that in Alaska there are only 102 participants that are currently registered.  That seems like a really small number compared to over 50,000 in Oregon or 116,000 in California.  Alaska has not had a really damaging earthquake since 1964 and people tend to forget what destruction happened during the Great Alaska Earthquake and that it can and will happen again.  Being prepared to take immediate action is vital to surviving. 

It is imperative that everyone participates in this drill and that they approach it as if it is real.  Knowledge is the best defense in surviving an earthquake.  People tend to get complacent in dealing with earthquakes when they live in an area that has small earthquakes often.  They start feeling a false sense of safety.  Some people have been in earthquakes and nothing really happened while some took cover and maybe felt they overreacted or others made them feel they overreacted.  It would never be overreacting if it was the “big” one.  Each earthquake must be respected as if it is the big one because it just might be.  Seconds can make a huge difference in surviving an earthquake.  Waiting until you know that it is the big one could very likely be too late.  Having an earthquake drill annually helps everyone to remember that it can happen at any time.  “Stop, Drop, and Hold On” when it does!


One thought on “Unit 7, Public Education”

  1. I remember doing emergency drills during primary school. My school did earthquake “duck and cover” drills every few months to teach the students how to react and stay safe when an earthquake occurred. The administrators recognized that the threat of a large devastating earthquake is very real for Alaska and decided that hands-on emergency drills were the best way teach and prepare students. Since then, I’ve noticed that emergency preparedness has gradually disappeared from my public education. I don’t remember doing a single earthquake drill during middle or high school.

    For me, emergency preparedness essentially stopped after 6th grade. I was fine with the lessons I had in primary school however my high school had a large portion of military students, many of whom had never experienced or learned how to act during an earthquake. I think that emergency preparedness is vital for young children but equally important for older students. I think that programs like the ShakeOut Campaign, which encourages everyone to participate, are well designed.

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