Annual ShakeOut Drill Teaches Arizonans the Basics of Earthquake Safety

Annual ShakeOut Drill Teaches Arizonans the Basics of Earthquake Safety

The Great Arizona ShakeOut is scheduled for Oct. 16 at 10:16 a.m. One that day and at that time, all Arizonans are asked to Drop, Cover and Hold On.

PHOENIX--“Every time the ground shakes in Arizona,” says Mike Conway of the Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS), “we get the question, “Do we have earthquakes in Arizona?


“The answer is yes,” he added. “The Earth’s crust in Arizona is fully capable of delivering damaging ground shaking.”


Arizonans were reminded of this overlooked geological fact this past summer when a magnitude (M) 5.2 earthquake shook the rural town of Duncan—population 696—in Greenlee County.


Residents of Duncan, according to AZGS, experienced a “moderate shaking” at around 10 p.m. on June 28. More than 2,300 people reported “feeling” the earthquake to the U.S. Geological Survey’s “Did You Feel it?” website.


Arizona is capable of damaging, M7.0 and greater earthquakes, but such large earthquakes are rare. Each year, AZGS documents 50 to 100 or more earthquakes in Arizona. Most that occur in and adjacent to Arizona are magnitude 2.5 or less. Only 3 or 4 are strong enough to be felt.


This year has been the exception to that “rule.” Residents of Duncan have felt dozens of smaller aftershocks since the M5.2 earthquake on June 28.


Over 30 states hold annual Great ShakeOut events to drill the Whole Community on how to react to an earthquake—DROP to the ground, take COVER under a desk or table; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops.


“We should all know how to behave in the event of an earthquake,” said Mike Conway, chief of the AZGS Geological Extension Service in Tucson. “ShakeOut is a simple “drop, cover and hold on” exercise that once learned and annually practiced can save lives and prevent injury. “


AZGS has scheduled the third annual Great Arizona ShakeOut for Thursday, Oct. 16, at 10:16 a.m. Over 92,300 people statewide have registered for the ShakeOut so far. Last year’s total participation exceeded 110,000. All Arizonans—families, businesses, universities and government offices included—are encouraged to register for ShakeOut at


“We have a lot of great partners helping us get the word out about ShakeOut,” Conway observed. “And we continue to partner with state and local emergency management offices to grow the drill and educate the Whole Community on how to respond to earthquakes.”


“Arizona’s K-12 schools make up the lion’s share of our participants,” he continued. “We are grateful for the help of school administrators and teachers in making the Great Arizona ShakeOut part of their annual safety training program. “


Earthquakes are one of four hazards featured as part of the AZGS Natural Hazard Viewer, an interactive website created in partnership with the Arizona Division of Emergency Management and FEMA. The others are earth fissures, floods and wildfires. Each hazard is described in detail and displayed as a layer on the map.


Arizonans can enter an address into the Hazard Viewer to search for hazards within a three mile radius of their home or business. AZGS periodically updates the Viewer with new and/or revised hazards information. It is important to remember, however, that the website is only as useful as the actions it inspires. Home and business owners must do the work to prepare for and mitigate against all hazards.



For earthquake preparedness and hazard information, visit the Arizona Emergency Information Network (AzEIN) at