South Carolina to ShakeOut for Earthquake Preparedness Week

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Columbia, S.C. - Governor Henry McMaster has proclaimed Earthquake Preparedness Week for 2019 be observed October 13-19 in South Carolina. The S.C. Emergency Management Division encourages everyone to take this opportunity to learn about our state’s seismic fault system and how best to prepare for earthquakes. A highlight of the week will be the Great Southeast ShakeOut on Thursday, October 17 at 10:17 a.m.

More than two million people across eight states and Washington D.C. will take part in the Great SouthEast ShakeOut earthquake safety drill. The regional ShakeOut drill is part of an international effort in which participants simultaneously practice how to stay safe during an earthquake — “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”. For most people, in most situations, this means to:

  • DROP where you are, onto your hands and knees;
  • COVER your head and neck with one arm and hand, as you crawl for shelter under a nearby table or desk;
  • HOLD ON to your shelter with one hand until shaking stops (remain on your knees and covering your head and neck with your other arm and hand).

Schools, businesses, organizations, government agencies, communities, and households are all encouraged to participate in the drill. Worldwide, 25 million people are currently expected to participate in Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills next Thursday. Although the primary activity of the ShakeOut is based upon a drill procedure similar to a fire or tornado drill, participants are encouraged to take actions to become better prepared for all disasters. This could include:

  • Securing heavy items to prevent them from causing injuries during an earthquake
  • Creating an emergency plan and/or updating emergency supply kits
  • Talking with their families and neighbors about emergency preparedness

Registration on the Great Southeast ShakeOut site is an important part of this event. This event is open to everyone in South Carolina. To register, go to

Similar to other emergency preparedness drills sponsored by SCEMD, the signal to begin the drill will be broadcast next Thursday at 10:17 a.m. on NOAA tone-alert weather radio and broadcast media. All media are encouraged to participate in the ShakeOut by broadcasting the drill message issued by SCEMD and the National Weather Service.

There have been eight low-magnitude earthquakes recorded in South Carolina since October 2018. Our state experiences approximately ten to 20 earthquakes a year according to geologists with the College of Charleston. The epicenter of the largest earthquake ever recorded along the eastern United States seaboard was just outside of Charleston on August 31, 1886. The 7.3 magnitude quake devastated the region and was felt from Chicago, Ill, to Cuba. According to a study commissioned by SCEMD, an earthquake of similar magnitude occurring today would result in tremendous loss of life, severe property damage and extreme economic loss. Results of the study are detailed in the South Carolina Earthquake Guide.