‘Drop, cover and hold on’: Annual earthquake drill to take place in DC region and beyond

The U.S. West Coast may be known for being earthquake central, but the D.C. region can also experience them. That’s why at businesses, schools, government buildings and other locations in the area and around the nation, earthquake drills will take place this Thursday.

The Great ShakeOut earthquake drill is the annual event sponsored by the United States Geological Survey, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the National Science Foundation that encourages people to “drop, cover and hold on.”



According to FEMA, “drop” means a person should drop to their hands and knees where they are and “cover” means a person should cover their neck and head with one arm and hand, as they crawl under a nearby table or desk. Finally, “hold on” means to use the other arm and hand to hold onto that table or desk until the shaking stops.

Though uncommon, the D.C. region has seen earthquakes, such as the 2.0 magnitude earthquake that shook central Maryland earlier this month. In 2011, a 5.8 magnitude quake centered in Mineral, Virginia, caused damage to the Washington Monument and Washington National Cathedral.

“The severity of the 2011 earthquake brought about two Presidentially Declared Disasters that were awarded to both the Commonwealth of Virginia and Washington, D.C. totaling more than $47 million in Public Assistance and almost $17 million in Individual Assistance Funding Obligations combined,” a FEMA news release stated.

While individuals can practice the drill on their own, they can also sign up their office, school or church to participate in the Great ShakeOut by visiting the event’s website.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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