Skip to content

Individuals and Families

Knowing what to do before an earthquake happens can help avoid injury and save lives. New Zealand ShakeOut provides an opportunity to practise the Drop, Cover and Hold earthquake drill.

The boxes below provide guidelines for how individuals, families, and other households (flatmates, etc.) can plan their drill, tips for getting prepared, and suggestions for sharing the ShakeOut with others. With your participation, this will be the largest earthquake drill ever in New Zealand!

Other ways to participate:
Who else is participating?


Observation information and evaluation form
For evaluating the drop, cover and hold drill at 9:26-26:9

Champions guideline
How you can help spread the word and get others involved in the largest earthquake drill in New Zealand’s history!



  • Register to be counted in the ShakeOut Drill, get email updates, and more.

  • Note the time and date in your diary (9.26am on Wednesday 26 September 2012).

Between now and 26 September:

  • Consider what may happen when an earthquake shakes your area. Plan what you will do now to prepare, so that when it happens you will be able to protect yourself and then recover quickly.

  • Talk to other people about what they have done, and encourage them to join you in getting more prepared.

  • Practise the Drop, Cover and Hold drill.

9:26am on 26 September:

  1. Do the Drop, Cover, and Hold drill:

    • DROP down onto your hands and knees (before the earthquake knocks you down). This position protects you from falling but allows you to still move if necessary.
    • COVER your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under a sturdy table or desk. If there is no shelter nearby, get down near an interior wall (or next to low-lying furniture that won't fall on you), and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.
    • HOLD on to your shelter (or your position to protect your head and neck) until the shaking stops. Be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts it around.

    Adjust these steps as needed if you will be in an elevator, outside, driving, at the beach, or other situations during your drill or in an actual earthquake. Instructions are also available for people with disabilities or special requirements.

  2. While you are doing the drill, imagine that it is real and what might be happening around you. Then, consider what you might need to do before a real earthquake happens to help protect yourself and your family.

  3. Practise what you will do after the shaking stops.

  4. After your drill is complete, have discussions about what was learned and apply these lessons to your household emergency plan.

  5. Share your ShakeOut photos, videos, and stories using our Share the ShakeOut page.


Getting ready before an earthquake strikes will help reduce damage to your home and help you and your family to survive.

  • Learn about the earthquake risk in your area.

  • Develop a Household Emergency Plan.

  • Assemble and maintain your emergency survival items for your home and workplace, as well as a portable getaway kit.

  • Practise Drop, Cover and Hold.

  • Identify safe places within your home, school or workplace. A safe place is:

    • Somewhere close to you, no more than a few steps or less than three metres away, to avoid injury from flying debris.
    • Under a strong table (hold on to the table legs to keep it from moving away from you).
    • Next to an interior wall, away from windows and tall furniture that can fall on you (protect your head and neck with your arms).

  • Keep in mind that in modern homes, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the structure and usually have doors that can swing and injure you.

  • Check your household insurance policy for cover and amount. Make sure cover is adequate and up to date and that important documents can easily be gathered if you have to evacuate.

  • Seek qualified advice to make sure your house is secured to its foundations and ensure any renovations comply with the New Zealand Building Code.

  • Secure heavy items of furniture to the floor or wall. Find out how to quake-safe your home.

  • Remember to include your pets in your planning! Visit to download your free pet disaster pack.

Information about getting prepared for an earthquake is available in nine languages at (English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Te Reo Māori, Gagana Sāmoa, Lea Faka-Tonga, and Arabic).


ShakeOut Flyer For Individuals and Families

Invite others to register for New Zealand ShakeOut. With your help this can become the largest earthquake drill in New Zealand history!

  • Talk about New Zealand ShakeOut with family, friends, neighbours and others in your community. Check if they know about it. Encourage everyone to register, (especially if you can help those without internet access).

  • Share preparedness information, and consider the needs of people with disabilities or special requirements.

  • Encourage your employer to register your workplace and get involved.

©2015 SCEC Southern California Earthquake Center @ USC
New Zealand ShakeOut Step 1: Secure it now! Step 2: Make a plan Step 3: Make disaster kits Step 4: Is your place safe? Step 5: Drop, Cover, and Hold On Step 6: Check it out! Step 7: Communicate and recover!