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How to ShakeOut

Find basic instructions on how you can get prepared and do the drill. Taking part in New Zealand ShakeOut is easy and a great way for you and your family (or flatmates) to learn the right actions to take before, during, and after an earthquake and tsunami.

Before the drill


During the drill

The following resources are to help you run your New Zealand ShakeOut earthquake drill and tsunami hīkoi.

There are lots of ways to start the drill, blow a whistle, shout ‘earthquake drill!’ or watch official videos.

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

Do the Drop, Cover, and Hold drill for 30-60 seconds:

  • DROP down on your hands and knees. This protects you from falling but lets you move if you need to.
  • COVER your head and neck (or your entire body if possible) under a sturdy table or desk (if it is within a few steps of you).
  • HOLD on to your shelter (or your position to protect your head and neck) until the shaking stops. If the shaking shifts your shelter around, move with it.

If you are unable to drop, brace yourself in a chair or wheelchair (lock your wheels) and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms. If you are unable to get out of bed, cover your head and neck with a pillow.

Many people are injured while trying to move DURING the shaking. It is safer to Drop, Cover, and Hold until the shaking is over.

If you will be in an elevator, outside, driving, at the beach, or in other situations during your drill or in an actual earthquake, you can find information about how to adjust these steps on the Cilvil Defence website.

Observing the ShakeOut

Being a ShakeOut Observer is a really fun way to be involved with ShakeOut even if you’re not participating in the actual drill.

If you haven’t filled out a New Zealand ShakeOut Observer Form before, just know there are a few questions about who you saw participate and how they participated. This Observer Form information is so helpful for us, so we can understand how successful the drill was and how we can improve the experience.


After the drill

After your drill is complete:

  • Talk about what you learned
  • Make changes to your household emergency plan, business emergency and continuity plans or school/early childhood centre emergency plans if you need to, and,
  • Share your ShakeOut photos, videos and stories on social media.

Tsunami hīkoi

If you are in a tsunami evacuation zone you should practise your evacuation route, or ‘tsunami hīkoi’. A tsunami hīkoi is a walk that takes you along your tsunami evacuation route either inland or towards high ground.

Find out more about the tsunami hikoi (East Coast LAB Website)


More information

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!