The Great Hawaii ShakeOut: Get ready to … drop, cover, and hold on


The Great Hawaii ShakeOut will rumble across the islands at 10:17 a.m. Oct. 17.

We first mentioned this earthquake drill in our July 18 Volcano Watch article, hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/view.php?id=185. Now that the Great Hawaii ShakeOut is less than a month away, we want to tell you what the drill entails and why you should get involved.

ShakeOut began in 2008 in California, a state known for its devastating temblors, such as the 1906 magnitude 7.9 in San Francisco, 1989 magnitude 6.9 in Loma Prieta and 1994 magnitude 6.7 in Northridge earthquakes. ShakeOut has grown into a worldwide event, with 20 million people expected to participate this year.

Across the United States, ShakeOut drills vary in complexity. Some are full-blown mock disasters involving multiple emergency response agencies and hundreds of people. This being Hawaii’s first ShakeOut, our goal is more modest.

We hope that residents throughout the state will take a few moments to learn about “Drop! Cover! Hold on!” — actions that have been proven to reduce injury and death during an earthquake — then practice, or at least think about, these actions at 10:17 a.m. Oct 17.

Learn about “Drop! Cover! Hold on!” through the Great Hawaii ShakeOut website, shakeout.org/hawaii, which also includes many helpful resources. For instance, the “Recommended Earthquake Safety Actions in Hawaii” describes how to protect yourself in different situations — whether you’re in bed, driving a car or in a wheelchair — when an earthquake occurs.

The Great Hawaii ShakeOut website also provides information on other things you should do to prepare for Hawaii’s next big earthquake, such as organizing an emergency kit, developing an evacuation plan and securing objects that might fall.

But we’re keeping Hawaii’s first ShakeOut simple, with a “drill” that entails only a few minutes of your time to practice “Drop! Cover! Hold on!” Knowing what to do and practicing those actions will empower you to react quickly during Hawaii’s next earthquake no matter where you are.

Many Hawaii residents are aware of the damage caused by the 1906, 1989, and 1994 California earthquakes, but some don’t perceive that devastation as something that could happen on their island home. If you’re of this mindset, please note that Hawaii has experienced earthquakes equivalent in size to those in California. The 1868 magnitude 7.9 in Ka‘u, 1975 magnitude 7.7 in Kalapana, 1938 and 1951 magnitude 6.9 in Maui and Kona, respectively, and 2006 magnitude 6.7 near Kiholo Bay earthquakes are just a few examples.

In fact, Hawaii has a long history of destructive earthquakes. Since 1868, more than 30 magnitude 6.0 or greater earthquakes have impacted residents across the state. For more information about these earthquakes, view the slide show posted on the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website, hvo.wr.usgs.gov.

One concern is that it has been 40 years since a large earthquake — the magnitude 6.2 Honomu earthquake on April 26, 1973 — occurred during school hours. For this reason, we are encouraging teachers, especially, to talk about and practice “Drop! Cover! Hold on!” with their students.

The probability of a magnitude-6.5 or higher earthquake striking the Hawaiian Islands in the next 10 years is 50 percent. It’s not a matter of “if” a large, destructive earthquake will hit Hawaii, but “when.”

The Great Hawaii ShakeOut is the perfect opportunity to start thinking and learning about earthquake safety and the actions you can take to reduce injury during an earthquake.

To help spread the Great Hawaii ShakeOut message to all Hawaii residents, HVO is partnering with the Hawaii County and State Civil Defense agencies, University of Hawaii at Hilo, UH-Hilo Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes, NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and American Red Cross. You’ll hear more from us via local media in the coming weeks.

For now, visit the websites, mark your calendars and get ready to “Drop! Cover! Hold on!”

Kilauea activity update

A lava lake within the Halemaumau Overlook vent produced nighttime glow visible from the Jaggar Museum overlook and via HVO’s webcam during the past week. No deflation-inflation cycles had occurred as of Thursday, and the lava lake level was correspondingly steady.

On Kilauea’s east rift zone, two small breakouts from the Peace Day tube are active above the pali, and the Kahaualea 2 flow, fed from a spatter cone on the northeast edge of the Puu Oo crater, continues to burn forest north of Puu Oo. There are no active flows on the coastal plain, and there is no ocean entry.

At 2:55 p.m. Sept. 12, a magnitude 2.6 earthquake occurred 4 miles southeast of Pahoa at a depth of 2 miles.

Visit the HVO website for Volcano Awareness Month details and Kilauea, Mauna Loa and Hualalai activity updates, recent volcano photos, recent earthquakes and more; call 967-8862 for a Kilauea summary; email questions to askHVO@usgs.gov.

Volcano Watch is a weekly article and activity update written by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.