Earthquake drill: Great Washington ShakeOut in its 10th year

For its tenth year, hundreds of thousands of people in Washington participated in the Great Washington ShakeOut earthquake and tsunami drill Thursday morning.

At precisely 10:21 a.m., Washingtonians were encouraged to drop, cover and hold on wherever they were.

About 1.3 million people across Washington took part in the drill.

At about the same time, the state’s network of 122 tsunami sirens along the coast were tested. People who live in coastal areas heard the wailing sound of a tsunami warning, and not the usual chimes that are used during the monthly tests.

Washington Emergency Management officials said there are many new sirens on the coast so the sound would come from new directions.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radios also sounded an alarm.

If you hear the wailing siren sound on any day other than Oct. 21, officials said you should immediately follow the closest tsunami evacuation route inland or to high ground.

Those who live on the coast were asked to consider walking the nearest evacuation route or at least figure out where they would need to go to evacuate.

Officials said those who are working from home should look for hazards around them and talk with family members about where they would gather if their home was damaged, and they were separated. Another discussion should be had about plans if an earthquake happens when you’re at a workplace or have children in school.

Seismologists advise if an earthquake does hit, do not stand in a doorway or run outside. Instead, get to the ground, take cover under something sturdy such as a desk or a bed and hold on. That will likely protect you from anything that falls.

“That’s the most likely cause of injuries is just things falling on your head. Could be things like a bookshelf. Make sure it’s secured to the wall,” Pacific Northwest Seismic Network Director Harold Tobin said.

As learned from the 6.8 Nisqually earthquake in 2001, roofs can cave in, buildings can crumble and the ground can split open within 45 seconds.

For more information on the Great Washington ShakeOut, go to