Shake out, don’t freak out!

Thursday, October 10, 2019 - 8:00am







The Great Southeast Shakeout is a week away and you can be part of the growing crowd to participate in the world’s largest earthquake drill on Oct. 17 at 10:17 a.m. Join the more than 2.1 million people in the southeast who have registered their organization, school, agency, business or family and are ready to perform a ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On’ drill, the recommended action for people to take during an earthquake. Among those joining in the Shakeout are more than 100 North Carolina K-12 schools and districts, which accounts for more than 347,000 of the 364,000 registered participants in the state.

Although North Carolina is not known for its earthquakes, they do happen. While they’re typically small, larger quakes have been known to occur in the state and surrounding areas. Since 1735, North Carolina has experienced 22 damaging earthquakes, which can happen at any time in North Carolina.  It’s also important to know how to protect yourself when traveling to an area that is more prone to earthquakes.

The state can experience damage from earthquakes centered within North Carolina, but also from earthquakes centered from outside the state, such as eastern Tennessee; Charleston, South Carolina; Giles County, Virginia; Central Virginia; and even the New Madrid seismic zone, which consists of several branches that include northeastern Arkansas, southwestern Kentucky, southeastern Missouri, and northwestern Tennessee. Part of Western North Carolina falls into the Eastern Tennessee seismic zone, which stretches along the Tennessee border from northeastern Alabama to southwestern Virginia and is quite active.

The best way to stay safe during any disaster, whether it’s man-made, a hurricane, wildfire, an earthquake or other disaster is to prepare and practice your disaster plan. ‘Drop, Cover, Hold On’ is the recommended action to take during an earthquake because it allows you to get down before your thrown to the ground, provides protection from falling or flying items, and increases your chances of surviving a building collapse. If you’re in a small structure, a high-rise building or a public place during an earthquake, the same rules apply: stay away from windows and outside walls, drop, cover and hold on, shield your head with something if possible and don’t leave the building until the shaking stops. When you do leave, don’t use the elevators and watch for items that may fall in an aftershock. If you are trapped, stay calm and tap on hard or metal parts of the structure to try and attract attention.

Most injuries and deaths during an earthquake are from falling objects such as heavy furniture, televisions, lamps and other common items. It’s important to identify and practice going to the safe places in your home or workplace where you can shelter during an earthquake. It is safer to be under a table and away from windows then in a doorway where there’s no protection from falling objects.

For those with impaired mobility during an earthquake, if you cannot drop to the ground, try to remain seated so you are not knocked down. If you’re in a wheelchair lock the wheels and protect your head and neck with a large book, pillow or your arms. For those with impaired mobility more information can be found at

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the following useful advice to reduce your chances of being hurt:

  • If possible within the few seconds before shaking intensifies, quickly move away from glass and hanging objects, and bookcases, china cabinets or other large furniture that could fall. Watch for falling objects, such as bricks from fireplaces and chimneys, light fixtures, wall hangings, high shelves and cabinets with doors that could swing open.
  • If available nearby, grab something to shield your head and face from falling debris and broken glass.
  • If you are in the kitchen, ensure the stove is turned off and take cover at the first sign of shaking.
  • If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow. You are less likely to be injured staying where you are. Broken glass on the floor has caused injury to those who have rolled to the floor or tried to get to doorways.
  • If you are inside, stay inside. DO NOT run outside or to other rooms during shaking.
  • Make a plan with your children on where, when and how to find one another after an earthquake or other natural disaster.

Join the millions of others across the Southeast on October 17 for the Great Southeast Shakeout and practice dropping, covering and holding on.

  1. DROP – Get down on the floor when shaking starts before the quake drops you.
  2. COVER - Take cover under a sturdy desk, table or other furniture. If you cannot find something to get under, crouch against an inside wall. Keep your head and neck safe by using your arms. Stay away from windows, hanging objects, mirrors or anything that might fall over.
  3. HOLD ON – Hold on to a desk, table or piece of furniture. Be ready to move with it during the quake.

Visit where you can register, find fact sheets, drill manuals, drill broadcast recordings, flyers, videos and other materials that make it easy for your group to participate in the drill and be prepared.

Brian R. Haines