• Emergency actions are also discussed in the School Disaster and Incident Preparedness Plan.

    I. Disaster Drill for Schools

    Great California ShakeOut - annually on the third Thursday of October

    Prepare and practice for a catastrophic earthquake. Conduct a drop, cover and hold on drill. This constructive exercise provides an opportunity to collaborate with local public safety partners and improve local capacity to respond to an earthquake. 

    Click here to register and in order to participate in the excercise.
    Choose a level of participation:

    Level 1: Drop Cover and Hold On Drill and Building Evacuation
    Level 2: Life Safety Drill
    Level 3: Decision-Making Table Top Drill
    Level 4: School Standard Emergency Management Simulation Drill

    ​II. Drop and Cover Drill

    Review classroom earthquake drill procedures with students, and have them practice the drop, cover and hold routine illustrated in the reproducible master. You may do the drill with or without a simulation script.

    III. Evacuation Drill

    Walk the class through the regular fire drill route to an open area outdoors. Ask students to make mental notes, as they go along, of things that might become hazards during an earthquake. When you reach the designated site, talk about what they noticed or hazards they thought of. A list of such hazards is below:

    • power failure (is there emergency lighting?)
    • halls or stairways cluttered with debris--ceiling tiles or plaster from walls
    • halls blocked by fallen lockers or trophy cabinets; smoke in the hallway exit doors and windows that jam and will not open
    • aftershocks could hit while they are evacuating (in which case students drop and cover where they are)
    • bricks, glass and debris piled up outside electrical wires on the ground.

    When you return to the classroom, discuss with the students how the hazards could be reduced, and/or how they could cope with them if they happened.

    IV. Safety Considerations

    Explain to the class that if there is a strong earthquake, each student's first responsibility is for her or his personal safety. Every student should learn, however, how to help someone else who is injured. Present some "what if" questions to provoke discussion.

    • What if the teacher is injured?
    • What if a student is cut by shattered glass and is bleeding?
    • What if someone is hit by a falling light fixture or heavy object and knocked out?
    • What if a student is very upset by the earthquake?

    V. Emotional Considerations

    Lead a discussion with the students about the reactions they may have to an earthquake. Mention that it is normal to feel very frightened, worried, or even physically sick. Some people respond to the fear by crying, and some by laughing. Have the students talk about what they can do after an earthquake to help themselves and their classmates feel less scared and worried.

    It may take a long time for parents or caretakers to get to the school, so everyone should be prepared to wait patiently. Students may be very concerned about their parents or siblings; they may in fact be "worried sick." Have students discuss what they can do to help each other pass the time and not worry so much. Point out that if their family has made an earthquake plan, they will have a better idea of what to expect from each family member.

    VI. Teacher Reminders

    A. Duck and Cover

    • Take cover yourself
    • Talk calmly to the students
    • Stay covered at least 60 seconds
    • Give instructions for what to do after the shaking stops

    B. When No Cover is Available

    • Move to an inside wall
    • Kneel next to wall, facing away from windows
    • Cover head and neck with hands and elbows; if coats are available, cover heads with them to protect from glass.

    C. When Outside

    • Stay outside
    • Take cover in an open area away from falling hazards
    • Talk calmly and give instructions

    D. If in Bus or Car

    • Driver should stop as quickly as possible
    • Park away from buildings, highway overpasses, power poles, trees
    • Passengers should stay in vehicle and duck and cover as well as possible there.

    Excerpted from "Post-Earthquake Damage Evaluation for California Schools" by the Division of the State Architect, March, 1995.