Community participates in “The Great CNMI ShakeOut”

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CNMI Homeland Security and Emergency Management, in collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, held “The Great CNMI ShakeOut” on Thursday to practice safety measures in case of an earthquake.

International ShakeOut Day is the world’s largest earthquake drill that falls on the third Thursday of October each year.

Even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the global ShakeOut still took place worldwide.

More than 10,500 individuals took part in “The Great CNMI ShakeOut,” with a majority of participants being from the Public School System.

Participants held their drills at a time and place of their choosing.

This drill serves as an opportunity for community members to create an emergency plan for such occurrences, according to organizers.

It is as easy as 1, 2, and 3: drop to the ground, take cover by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on for about 60 seconds or until the shaking stops.

The Drop, Cover, and Hold On drill is meant to react quickly in case an individual only has seconds to protect himself or herself in an earthquake.

If a person is indoors when an earthquake starts, it is advised to remain indoors, stay calm, and not run out into the open until the shaking stops and it is safe to exit a building, else risk being injured from debris and falling objects.


A Department of Public Lands employee seeks cover during “The Great CNMI ShakeOut” on International ShakeOut Day. Department of Public Lands photo

It is also important to move away from windows and large objects that could collapse, such as shelves and appliances.

Once the shaking stops, all utilities should be checked for any issues, such as water or gas leaks and electrical shortages, and utility mains should be turned off if it is safe to do so.

During the drill, people are encouraged to identify hazards or items that might fall and cause possible injuries in case of an earthquake.

Persons or families should have a disaster-preparedness plan for their specific needs, whether they are elders, persons with disabilities, children, or pets.

It is recommended that all household members know how to use a fire extinguisher.

For businesses and organizations, continuity plans must be reviewed and/or exercised to identify and practice organizational responsibilities.

Emergency supply kits should be organized or refreshed and prepared in case of emergency.

It can contain items such as food, water, fire extinguishers, first aid, flashlights, crank radios, satellite phones, generators, and fuel.

If a person is outdoors when the shaking starts, it is recommended that he or she find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines, then perform the Drop, Cover, and Hold On drill until the shaking stops.

For individuals who are driving when an earthquake takes place, it is important that he or she pull over to a clear location and remain there with his or her seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops.

Once the shaking stops, drivers should proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that may have been damaged.

In the case that a person is near the shore when the shaking begins, it is recommended that he or she perform the Drop, Cover, and Hold On drill until the shaking stops, and then immediately move two miles inland or to land that is at least 100 feet above sea level.

It is not recommended that he or she wait for officials to issue a warning, but rather, walk quickly and avoid traffic, debris, and other hazards.

Most injuries and deaths relating to earthquakes are caused by collapsing walls and roofs, flying glass, and falling objects.

Because most injuries occur when a person attempts to move a short distance during the shaking, it is stressed that a person move as little as possible to reach his or her designated safe place.

Over 28.1 million participants worldwide joined in on the International ShakeOut Day drill this year.

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