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Register Now for Southeast ShakeOut Earthquake Drill

Posted at 10:45 a.m.

At 10:20 a.m. next Thursday, Oct. 20, the Great Southeast ShakeOut earthquake drill will be held. The annual drill is the time for us to practice our drop, cover and hold on skills in case we were to encounter an actual earthquake.

Over 1.2 million Virginia residents registered to participate last year. And Fairfax County has always led the way in registered participants — so let’s do so again this year. Register now to participate in this year’s drill.

Southeast ShakeOut Drill Oct. 20, 2016, 10:20 a.m.

Drop, Cover and Hold On

Drop, cover and hold on is the appropriate action to reduce injury and death during earthquakes. The ShakeOut drill is our opportunity to practice how to protect ourselves during earthquakes and learn what to do — and what not to do.

  • Drop where you are, onto your hands and knees. This position protects you from being knocked down and also allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if nearby.
  • Cover your head and neck with one arm and hand.
    • If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter.
    • If no shelter is nearby, crawl next to an interior wall (away from windows).
    • Stay on your knees; bend over to protect vital organs
  • Hold on until shaking stops.
    • Under shelter, hold on to it with one hand; be ready to move with your shelter if it shifts.
    • No shelter: hold on to your head and neck with both arms and hands.Drop, Cover and Hold On for earthquake safety

Virginia Earthquake History

Virginia and much of the East Coast experienced a widely-felt earthquake at 1:51 p.m. eastern daylight time on Tuesday, August 23, 2011. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter of the quake was located near Cuckoo, in Louisa County. With a magnitude of 5.8, this is the largest Virginia earthquake recorded by seismometers. More than 80 aftershocks have been reported by the USGS and the area is currently being monitored by geophysicists from several leading science institutions.

The U.S. Geological Survey is now reporting that this is the most widely-felt earthquake in U.S. history.

Fairfax Alerts

If you’re not already registered for Fairfax Alerts, which sends emergency alert messages via text, email and phone, sign up today. You’ll not only get severe weather alerts, but also a reminder message about next week’s earthquake drill. Sign up at

Are You Registered for the March 22 Statewide Tornado Drill?

Posted at 1:30 p.m.

Just last month (Feb. 24), four people were killed in Virginia during the state’s first deadly February twisters on record.

Did you know that registration for Virginia’s statewide tornado drill — Tuesday, March 22, at 9:45 a.m. — is now open. Have you registered yet?

Tornado Drill 2016

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. They can appear suddenly without warning and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears. Be prepared to act quickly.

  • There were 67 tornadoes in Virginia from 2011 to 2013.
  • 12 tornadoes occurred in Virginia in 2014.
  • Seven tornadoes were recorded in Virginia in 2015.

When it comes to tornadoes, there’s no such thing as a “tornado season.” Tornadoes can strike anywhere, anytime — and you need to know the drill. That’s the reason the March 22 tornado drill is so important.

Sign up today as an individual, or register your family’s participation, your school or your business.

Today’s the Day to Drop, Cover and Hold On

Posted at 8:15 a.m.

In a couple of hours, don’t be surprised if you see folks around you start dropping to the floor, crawling under sturdy desks or tables and covering their heads. It’s all part of the annual Great Southeast ShakeOut earthquake drill that starts at 10:15 a.m.

Practicing these simple steps — drop, cover and hold on — is just one of the ways you can prepare for tremors.

Drop, Cover and Hold On for earthquake safety

  • DROP to the ground (before the shaking drops you).
  • Take COVER under a sturdy desk or table if possible, protecting your head and neck.
  • HOLD ON to the desk or table until the shaking stops.

Not to Late to Participate

Over 2 million people have registered to participate in this morning’s drill — including over 1.1 million in Virginia alone! But if you haven’t signed up, it’s not too late to do so. Just go to to register. And don’t worry if you’ve already got plans for this morning. You can conduct your own earthquake drill any time over the next two weeks to have your participation counted. So register now and drop, cover and hold on at 10:15 a.m.

Earthquakes in Virginia

Virginia experiences earthquakes each year, but only a few are felt. Since 1977, more than 195 quakes have been detected as originating beneath Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. Of these, at least 29 were large enough to be felt at the earth’s surface. This averages out to about six earthquakes per year, of which one is felt.

The Aug. 23, 2011 earthquake centered near Mineral, Va., was felt by one-third of the U.S. population from Georgia to Maine and it caused over $200 million in damage. Earthquakes like that one can cause sudden and intense back and forth motions of several feet per second. They can cause the floor or the ground to jerk sideways out from under you, while every unsecured object around you could topple, fall, or become airborne, potentially causing serious injury.

Now is a good time to check your home for unsecured objects that could move, break or fall as an earthquake shakes your home. Pay attention to tall, heavy or expensive objects like bookcases, home electronics, appliances and items hanging from walls, especially over beds, tables, desks or chairs. FEMA and our emergency management office recommends that you secure those items with flexible fasteners, such as nylon straps, or relocate them.

The Great Southeast ShakeOut Earthquake Drill is Oct. 15

Posted at 11 a.m.

Great Southeast ShakeOut 2015 Earthquake Drill

For the fourth year, Virginia will participate in the Great Southeast ShakeOut, a multi-state simultaneous earthquake drill scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 15, at 10:15 a.m.

As of this morning, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management reports that more than 797,000 Virginians have signed up for the earthquake drill. Have you?

Learn more about what to do if there is an earthquake and then practice these easy-to-remember steps during the ShakeOut:

  • Drop
  • Cover
  • Hold on!

There are many ways for you, businesses, schools, faith-based organizations, community groups and others to participate in the Southeast ShakeOut and to get prepared for earthquakes. Visit to learn more and register to participate. And if Oct. 15 isn’t a convenient time for your organization to hold an earthquake drill, you can still participate in the ShakeOut — you can hold a drill any time between then and Dec. 31 and still be counted as long as you register your participation.

Plan to Participate in the March 17 Statewide Tornado Drill

Posted at 9:45 a.m.

2015 Tornado Drill

Tornadoes can happen anywhere and at any time of year, making preparedness for these potentially deadly storms even more important. For example, Fairfax County had a couple of tornado watches and tornado warnings in 2014.

To be better prepared, businesses and organizations, schools and colleges, and families and individuals can practice taking cover from tornadoes by participating in the annual Statewide Tornado Drill Tuesday, March 17, at 9:45 a.m.

Registration for the tornado drill is not necessary, but you can learn more and show your support by signing up at

The annual drill is a joint effort of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service (NWS).

To start the tornado drill at 9:45 a.m. on March 17, the NWS will send a test tornado warning that will trigger a tone alert and broadcast message on NOAA Weather Radio. The message will be picked up by TV and radio broadcasts, simulating what listeners will hear during an actual tornado warning.

“Receiving a tornado warning as quickly as possible can make the difference between life and death,” said Bill Sammler, NWS warning coordination meteorologist. “One of the fastest ways for people to get a tornado warning is by NOAA Weather Radio, which provides warning information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. However, cellphone apps such as Ready Virginia are also available that quickly provide critical warning information at little or no cost. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) also provide tornado and flash flood warnings via text message to any compatible cell within the warning area, even if you are visiting or just traveling through an affected area.”

For help in conducting a tornado drill and to register for next week’s statewide drill, go to