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HI-EMA NEWS RELEASE: Great Hawaii Shakeout earthquake drill to take place statewide, October 15

Posted on Oct 1, 2015 in Latest Department News, Newsroom, Office of the Governor Press Releases

HONOLULU — On Thursday, October 15 at 10:15 a.m., Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) and its partners are encouraging the public to “Drop, Cover and Hold On,” and participate in the statewide Great Hawaii ShakeOut earthquake drill. Join millions of people worldwide who have already registered online for this year’s ShakeOut.

The internationally recognized earthquake drill allows people – whether at home, at work or outside – to practice what to do during earthquakes, and to improve preparedness. Drills provide an opportunity to update emergency plans and supplies, and to secure spaces in order to prevent damage and injuries in case of an actual disaster.

This year, the drill falls on the anniversary of the 2006 Kiholo Bay earthquake, when a magnitude-6.7 quake, generated offshore from Hawaii Island, shook the state. The earthquake resulted in severe damage to Hawaii Island’s infrastructure and its effects reached up the island chain.

“Our goal is to help people understand the dangerous impacts earthquakes can have, and how to best react and respond so they can protect themselves when a large magnitude earthquake threatens the state,” said Vern Miyagi, Administrator of Emergency Management.

When a major earthquake hits, it will cause vigorous ground shaking. Whether people are inside or outside, they should immediately “Drop, Cover and Hold On.” People should stay in place and take cover instead of rushing to evacuate buildings. If someone is at or near the beach, they should drop and cover their head and neck until the shaking stops.

Earthquakes can cause landslides and tsunamis. A locally generated tsunami is one of Hawaii’s greatest natural threats. Powerful tsunami waves can travel at the speed of a jet plane, allowing residents only a matter of minutes to evacuate to safety.

After an earthquake has subsided, people should immediately move to higher ground away from the ocean, at least 100 feet above sea level or beyond designated tsunami hazard zones. While doing so, they should also avoid steep cliffs and watch for falling rocks while moving inland. Natural warning signs of an earthquake-generated tsunami to be aware of include: receding or rising ocean levels and a sound like a locomotive coming from the ocean.

In Hawaii, more than 231,000 people have registered for ShakeOut. This year, the State Department of Education (DOE) is HI-EMA’s largest partner, and will be asking all schools within its jurisdiction to participate in the drill, with the exception of Kauai, where a Teacher Institute Day was previously scheduled. Kauai County will participate in the drill at another time.

Students will practice how to “Drop, Cover and Hold On,” the proper technique to protect themselves from the effects of an earthquake. Schools located within a Tsunami Evacuation Zone will follow the earthquake drill with a campus wide evacuation to their designated safety areas.

“It’s important for our students and staff to know proper earthquake safety techniques, especially in a school setting,” said Kathryn Matayoshi, Schools Superintendent. “The lessons learned during this earthquake exercise will stay with our students as they get older. Knowing what to do when an earthquake strikes helps to prevent potential injuries and reduce anxiety.”

Local, state and federal emergency management partners based in Hawaii will participate by conducting a communications exercise, testing internal tools such as the Hawaii Warning System (HAWAS), allowing them to transmit and receive emergency messages across the state.

Additional partners supporting this year’s drill include local emergency management and civil defense agencies, Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), State Public Charter Schools Commission, University of Hawaii at Hilo and American Red Cross.

Hawaii County has recognized ShakeOut for the past two years with the help and coordination of HVO (the organization that serves as the authoritative source for earthquake information in Hawaii), Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency, University of Hawaii at Hilo, UH Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes and American Red Cross. 

ShakeOut began in Southern California in 2008 as a drill designed to educate the public about how to protect themselves during a large earthquake, and how to get prepared. Since then, it has grown into an internationally recognized campaign with millions of participants taking part each year. It is also a major activity of America’s PrepareAthon!, which is spearheaded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is a grassroots campaign for action to increase community preparedness and resilience.

For more information about this year’s drill or to register your family, school, business or organization, visit

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Media Contact:

Galen Yoshimoto Anna Koethe
Public Information Officer Public Relations Officer
808-733-4300 or 808-620-5408 808-733-4300 or 808-620-5422
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