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The Great ShakeOut drill: Do you know what to do when an earthquake strikes?
Focus Humanitarian Assisstance
10 October 2013
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    Be prepared to protect yourself during an earthquake: 1. DROP and make yourself small; 2. Take COVER under a shelter; and 3. HOLD ON until the shaking stops. Copyright: AKDN

    You wake suddenly to discover that your bed is shaking. The clock, mirror and other objects in your room are falling all around you. Do you know what to do when an earthquake strikes?

    The Great ShakeOut is an annual drill that teaches people around the world how to protect themselves in the event of an earthquake. Having originated in California in 2008, ShakeOut has since spread globally and gained significant momentum, with millions of people participating from British Columbia, to Nepal, to New Zealand.


    Knowing how to correctly respond during an earthquake can save your life or prevent major injury:
    1. DROP to the ground. During a large earthquake, the ground might jerk strongly and knock you down.
    2. Take COVER under a table or something sturdy and move away from windows or other hazards.
    3. HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If you cannot get under something, stay low. Protect your head and neck using your arms, a book or anything else within reach.

    » Watch the ShakeOut drill video to participate from home

    The Aga Khan Development Network has been participating in the ShakeOut Drill since 2011. This initiative was conceived as part of AKDN's collaboration with California's Office of Emergency Services under the Agreement of Cooperation between the Ismaili Imamat and the State of California, and is coordinated through Focus Humanitarian Assistance.

    “The support that FOCUS and the Aga Khan Development Network have given to ShakeOut has enabled the campaign to reach more people in more countries than ever before,” says Mark Benthien, Director for Outreach, Southern California Earthquake Center, who coordinates Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills worldwide. Last year, more than 168 000 individuals participated in this endeavour, including AKDN staff, volunteers and students. People living in communities where AKDN agencies and affiliates are active also took part, in countries as varied as Australia, Afghanistan, Canada, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda and the United States. This year, at least 17 countries are expected to participate in the AKDN ShakeOut.

    “This will make a big difference in saving the lives of communities that are vulnerable to seismic disaster,” added Benthien.

    Many Ismaili families live in parts of the world that are particularly prone to earthquakes, including parts of India, Pakistan, Central Asia, and much of North America. Knowing what to do and practicing the steps by participating in the ShakeOut can make all the difference in saving lives and reducing injury.

    “The AKDN ShakeOut drill is a short exercise that will help you learn the immediate response procedure in the event of an earthquake,” explains Aziz Bhaloo, Chairman of FOCUS International Coordinating Committee. “It is important for us to be aware of the simple steps: Drop, Cover and Hold On, so that we can react immediately during an emergency.”

    Bhaloo points out that “whether you are at a school in Pakistan, on vacation in Australia, at the office in Tajikistan or in a Jamatkhana in India, it is essential for everyone to perform ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On' in an earthquake situation.”

    Battalion Chief Larry Collins of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, an experienced Urban Search and Rescue specialist, narrates a demonstration of Drop, Cover, and Hold On, the recommended procedure for preventing injury during earthquakes. Video: Courtesy of ShakeOut

    Learn more at the AKDN page on at For further information and details on how to get involved in the AKDN ShakeOut, email