Each year, Alaskans drop, cover and hold for a minute as part of the Great Alaska ShakeOut — an earthquake drill held across the state each third Thursday in October.
Jeremy Zidek with the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said the drill is part of a larger, international ShakeOut. But he said there’s an outsized importance to practicing earthquake safety in Alaska, which experiences more than half of all earthquakes in the U.S.
" class="wysiwyg-break drupal-content" src="/sites/all/modules/contrib/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif" title="<--break-->">Jeremy Zidek: Tomorrow, on October 21, at 10:21, across the state people will be practicing “drop, cover and hold on.” So, dropping to the ground, getting underneath a desk, a table or a chair, holding onto that cover and holding onto the back of their head and neck and staying in that position for a minute or two.
KDLL: How many people tend to participate in ShakeOut?
JZ: Here in 2021, we have about 100,000 people registered in the state of Alaska. In years past, we’ve we've had 120,130,000 people. So some people wait to the last minute to register. So we anticipate we'll see a few more join in before tomorrow.
KDLL: Why is it important to participate in this and to practice earthquake safety?
JZ: First and foremost, Alaska is earthquake country. Back in July, we had the 8.2 Chignik earthquake. That area also saw some other significant earthquakes — a 7.5 and a 7.9 in a year timeframe. It's still very active and shaking there. We had the 9.2 earthquake back in 1964, the Good Friday earthquake.
Really, Alaska is the most seismically active region in the United States. So this is earthquake country and it's incredibly important that people know what to do when there is an earthquake. And that's drop, cover and hold on.
The most common way that people are injured here in the United States by earthquakes is they get hit by falling objects. The second most common way is they're thrown to the ground. So with drop, cover and hold on, we're really protecting ourselves from those two most common injuries that occur here in the United States.
KDLL: Are you participating in the ShakeOut tomorrow?
JZ: Yeah, I'll be participating in the ShakeOut. State employees have been working from home due to COVID. But I'm going to be participating by myself. So at 10:21, I'll drop, cover and hold on under my desk here.
And if you're working in an office environment, you're at school or wherever you are, you can really participate in the ShakeOut. We do want people to register by going to shakeout.org. But really, the most important thing is that you practice the safety action.
We see that places like schools that regularly practice, when they have earthquakes, everyone drops, covers and holds on. But then people in environments where they don't practice it, they don't remember when the earthquake comes. And that violent shaking shocks them a little bit and they forget what to do.
So if we practice during the ShakeOut, and we practice even during small earthquakes, we're really preparing ourselves for when the big earthquake comes and things are flying around and it's a real dangerous situation. We’ll instinctively know what to do, and that's drop, cover and hold on.
Students and staff at the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District are also participating in the ShakeOut Thursday at 10:21 a.m. You can register for the ShakeOut at shakeout.org/alaska.