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April 19, 2011

Federal Officials Call on Schools and Colleges to Participate in April Earthquake Drill

Today U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called on K-12 schools and colleges and universities across the central U.S. – and throughout the country – to help their students, faculty, and communities prepare for earthquakes by participating in a public earthquake drill on Thursday, April 28, 2011. Eleven states in the New Madrid Seismic Zone are participating in the drill, the “Great Central U.S. ShakeOut,” which takes place at 10:15 am central time. Anyone can register to participate, whether at school, at work, or at home; to date, over two million Americans have signed up.

While similar “ShakeOut” earthquake drills are frequently conducted by California and other states on an individual basis, this is the first multistate earthquake drill, and the first drill in the central U.S., where many states would be impacted if a major earthquake hit the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Secretaries Duncan and Napolitano made their call to K-12 schools, colleges and universities in a letter sent earlier today.

“As adults, it’s our responsibility to make sure students are prepared, both at home and in school, for a possible emergency,” said Secretary Duncan. “The ShakeOut drill is an important exercise for parents, students, teachers and schools leaders across the country and I hope it encourages more schools to develop, implement, and evaluate emergency plans.”

“As the recent earthquakes in American Samoa, Haiti, New Zealand, Chile and now Japan remind us, earthquakes can strike at any time,” said Secretary Napolitano. “It’s critical that all members of the nation’s emergency management team – including the federal government, state, local and tribal officials, the private sector and the public – are prepared. Learning how to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of an earthquake or other disaster is a vital life skill – and we look forward to working with schools, colleges and our other partners to strengthen the resiliency of communities across the central United States.”

Participating in the Shakeout drill is simple – and anyone can participate. Schools and colleges can sign up at, which has instructions and resources to support educators, community groups and individuals interested in conducting the ShakeOut.

In addition, the Department of Education’s Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center provides guidance to help schools and communities can plan for, respond to, and recover from a disaster such as an earthquake. For more information, visit

Participating states include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee.