Following the magnitude 7.1 earthquake on Nov. 30, one thing was made clear. Alaskans were ready for a major earthquake. Whether it was building codes that minimized damage or people sheltering in place and knowing what to do following the quake — preparedness minimized damage and injuries. 

Thursday, Oct. 17 is a day set aside for not just Alaska, but the entire world, to practice what to do in the event of a major earthquake. At 10:17 a.m. millions of people will drop, cover and hold on during the Great Shakeout Earthquake Drills. 

Providence Alaska Medical Center was one of the dozens of large organizations that participated in the drill Thursday morning. More than 2,000 employees are on the Anchorage campus on any given day, including those in the Sterile Processing Department who stopped what the were doing to Drop, Cover and Hold-On at 10:17 a.m. 

One supervisor in the department said he was scared when the real shaking happened on November 30th, but he was prepared. 

"When it happened I knew exactly what to do and was able to call out to my co-workers that they find a safe place," said Samath May, a supervisor in the Sterile Processing Department at Providence.

"We need to have a plan in place to prepare because people get hurt when we have disaster like earthquakes."

In most cases, the best way to reduce your chance of injury is to:


When the ground starts shaking, the best thing to do is immediately drop to your hands and knees. This simple move protects you from falling and allows you to stay low while crawling to shelter.


It is important to protect yourself from falling objects or debris. Use one arm to protect your head and neck. If there is a sturdy table or desk nearby, get under it to better shelter from falling debris. If there is nothing sturdy to get under, crawl to a wall as far from windows as possible. No matter where you shelter it is important to stay low and protect vital organs. 

Hold on

Hold on can mean different things in different situations. If you don't have shelter, hold on to your head and neck with both hands until the shaking and falling debris stops. If you are able to shelter under something sturdy, it is important to hold on. This will keep you and your shelter together if the shaking gets severe. 

(Credit: Heather Hintze)

Drop, cover and hold is the best way to stay safe during an earthquake. It is important to act quickly and seek nearby shelter. Running for better shelter out the outdoors puts you in harm's way not only from running on the unstable ground but also from falling debris and breaking glass.  Likewise, doorways are not as safe as sheltering under a table or near an interior wall. 

More than 170,000 Alaskans and some 65 million people worldwide are expected to participate in the Great Shakeout drills.

Schools around the state will drop, cover, and hold on at 10:17 Thursday morning. 

You can join the Shakeout by registering at

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