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ShakeOut FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Find frequently asked questions about New Zealand ShakeOut. This page includes general questions, the correct actions to take during an earthquake and myth busting.

General questions about New Zealand ShakeOut

What is New Zealand ShakeOut?

  • A national earthquake drill taking place at 9:30 am, 18 October 2018.
  • A chance for everyone in New Zealand to practise the right action to take – Drop, Cover and Hold and for everyone in coastal areas to practise their tsunami hīkoi.
  • An opportunity for everyone to check their preparedness plans and know the right actions to take before, during and after an earthquake.

Who is involved?

Led by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management and co-ordinated regionally by Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups along with other agencies, NGOs and private sector organisations.

Everyone in New Zealand can take part, including schools, businesses, organisations, households and individuals.

Why join New Zealand ShakeOut?

  • By signing up for New Zealand ShakeOut you will receive all the information you need to take part in the drill.
  • Everyone in New Zealand needs to know what to do in an earthquake, wherever they are.
  • By taking part in the drill you will know what to do before, during and after an earthquake and tsunami – you can make sure your friends, family and work mates do too.
  • We will be the first country in the world to take part in ShakeOut 2018 and we’re aiming to have the highest number of participants per capita.

When is the drill?

The national drill is being held at 9:30 am, 18 October 2018.

How do I get involved?

  • Sign up now to be counted. You can sign up as an individual, household, workplace or organisation.
  • Once you have signed up, we will keep you up to date with how you can get ready to ShakeOut.
  • Spread the word by sharing ShakeOut (share with family, friends and colleagues, social media).
  • Drop, Cover and Hold at 9.30am on 18 October 2018*, followed by a tsunami hīkoi if you’re in a coastal area.

*If you cannot do the drill at 9:30 am, 18 October 2018, you can choose a time to suit you within two weeks of the drill (and still be counted).

What is the origin of ShakeOut?

New Zealand ShakeOut is an earthquake preparedness campaign based on the highly successful Great California ShakeOut, which began in 2008 and is now an annual event involving over ten million people. The ShakeOut concept is spreading to other states in the U.S.A and to other countries including Canada, New Zealand and Japan.

In New Zealand, the West Coast held its own Great West Coast ShakeOut in 2009 as part of a civil defence emergency management exercise.

When was Shakeout first held throughout New Zealand?

The first nationwide New Zealand ShakeOut was held on 26 September 2012, which culminated in a public, nationwide earthquake drill at 9:26 am on 26 September (9.26am, 26.9).

The aim of New Zealand ShakeOut 2012 was to have one million people participate in the drill. The campaign was a partnership between central and local government, with local government agencies being key players in encouraging public and corporate participation. The final result for ShakeOut 2012 and 2015 went beyond expectations - 1.3 million people took part in each drill.

Who is Shakeout for?

New Zealand ShakeOut is a campaign for all New Zealanders. The campaign is co-ordinated by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management, and shared by Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups, Government agencies and partner organisations across the country.

Local government, including CDEM Groups, and MCDEM have been running Get Ready Get Thru since 2006 to provide New Zealand-specific information about what the safest things to do are before, during and after disasters. Local government, MCDEM, Crown Research Institutes, universities, the insurance industry and others have worked together to ensure the information in Get Ready Get Thru is right for New Zealand. Since the Canterbury earthquakes, this information has been reviewed to ensure all lessons from those earthquakes have been captured and the information is up to date.

Why is ShakeOut so important?

Earthquakes happen in New Zealand. The Canterbury earthquakes showed what a terrible impact a large earthquake can have on our people and our country. This has given New Zealanders an increased awareness of the risk we all face.

New Zealand ShakeOut aims to build on that awareness and have people learn what they need to do in their workplaces, schools, homes, or wherever they may be.

What if a real earthquake were to happen at the time of the New Zealand ShakeOut drill?

You should Drop, Cover and Hold until the shaking has stopped.

Find more information about what to do after an earthquake

Has Shakeout ever been done before? Was it successful?

Yes, the ShakeOut was first developed in California in 2008. It has been so successful that is has grown larger every year and spread to many other locations.

Why should my employer/club (etc) take part in the Shakeout?

It will help them to be better prepared for an earthquake that could happen at any time.

Will you be preparing any material that could help me put a case to my manager that we should spend valuable work time doing this?

The Share the ShakeOut page has resources and suggestions for individuals, families, businesses and organisations to use to help them get better prepared for earthquakes.

Will there be material I can use with my school class, ESOL group (in other languages) or other special audience?

Yes, the Ministry of Education is encouraging schools and Early Childhood Education Centres (ECEs) to participate and there are lots of resources for schools. These will be made available on the New Zealand Shakeout website in the lead up to 18 October 2018.

I want to reprint information found on the New Zealand ShakeOut website. May I do this?

Yes, you may. However, we do ask that you send us what you’re interested in reprinting if you are interested in republishing information to a large audience, so that we can make sure that nothing is taken out of context or misrepresented.

Email your request to

I haven’t received anything about the ShakeOut. Am I registered?

Unfortunately you may not have received information because your email provider may consider the ShakeOut emails to be "spam" and block you receiving them. The emails may be in your "junk" or "spam" folder from If they are not there, send us an email to check whether you have signed up.

The correct actions to take during an earthquake

I know about Drop, Cover, Hold. Why do I need to actually do it during the ShakeOut drill?

We are encouraging everyone to participate if possible. To actually Drop, Cover and Hold helps to reinforce the actions you need to take to act quickly to protect yourself. Everyone living in coastal areas should practise their tsunami hikoi too so you know where to go if there is a real tsunami threat.

When should I get under a table or desk?

As soon as you feel an earthquake you should Drop, Cover and Hold. Do not wait to be told, or for others to act.

How long should I stay under the table?

Until the shaking has stopped and items have stopped moving. During the ShakeOut drill, aim to Drop, Cover and Hold for a 30-60 seconds.

Should I move away from glass and windows?

Yes if possible, but remember move no more than a few steps and, Drop, Cover and Hold.

Myth busting

I’ve heard about the ‘Triangle of Life” - Isn’t it better to drop beside a sturdy piece of furniture?

No, most buildings are built to a standard that they will maintain structural integrity in an earthquake, and a greater likely cause of injury is from falling ceiling tiles or loose furniture. Sheltering under a sturdy table or desk is the best place to be in an earthquake to reduce the risk of injury.

Is there such a thing as earthquake weather? Are we more likely to have an earthquake on a still/calm day?

No, earthquakes can happen at any time of the day, night, or year. Weather does not seem to have any relevance.

Having trouble finding something? Can't find it here? Contact us.

The ShakeOut website and registration system are services of SCEC, the 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!