Earthquake Preparedness

October 19, 2021 11:52 AM
by Lindsay B. Call

On October 21st at 10:21am, Californians across the state will participate in International ShakeOut Day, an annual opportunity to practice earthquake safety actions. Santa Monica’s Office of Emergency Management encourages all households and businesses to participate in the ShakeOut. Make October 21st a day to review your emergency plan, start or refresh a disaster kit, or even just practice the three easy earthquake safety steps – Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Learn more about the ShakeOut here. 

Drop, Cover, Hold On 

As soon as you feel an earthquake or receive an early earthquake alert, it’s critical to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” to protect yourself from serious injury during a major earthquake. DROP to the ground. Take COVER under a sturdy table or desk. HOLD ON to the table or desk so that it continues to shelter you throughout the earthquake. 

During our daily lives, we spend much of the day away from tables and desks. It’s important to know what earthquake safety steps you need to take when driving a car, at night, or if you use a wheelchair. The ShakeOut's Earthquake Safety Video Series is a great tool to teach you and your family the safest thing to do once shaking begins.  

Early Earthquake Warning 

Earthquake Warning California is the nation’s first widely available statewide earthquake warning seconds. The alert is designed to give residents advanced notice, even seconds, to protect themselves before shaking begins. This tool is available through the MyShake App or all phones will receive a Wireless Emergency Alert for emergency situations during an earthquake of a magnitude 5.0 or higher or when the earthquake shaking intensity scale is at Level IV, indicating light shaking that will disturb indoor household items will be disturbed. When Californians receive an earthquake alert on their phone, they should Drop, Cover, and Hold On immediately to protect themselves before shaking starts.  

To learn more about Earthquake Warning California and the MyShake App, visit 

Tsunami Impacts 

A tsunami is a series of waves usually case by an undersea earthquake. A large earthquake on land can also cause a tsunami impacting the Santa Monica coastline. When you’re at the beach, if an earthquake occurs, immediately Drop, Cover, and Hold On. When shaking stops, immediately walk inland and out of the tsunami hazard zone. There are Tsunami hazard signs throughout the city, and these signs will help determine the best route to find safety. Every minute counts during these events. Walking or bicycling out of the hazard zone is the fastest way to ensure your immediate safety.  


California Tsunami Hazard Maps have recently been updated. Search the LA County Tsunami Hazard Area Map to see if where you live, work, or play is in the tsunami zone so you know what to do after a large earthquake. Check out this National Weather Service Tsunami Preparedness video to learn more about tsunami warning signs.  


Information After an Earthquake 

After an earthquake, power and internet is not a guarantee. Often radios are the best way to get information from local news sources. After a major earthquake event, Santa Monica’s radio station KRSM 1680AM will broadcast local information updates as they become availableThis radio station is designed to only be accessible when in the City limits and is best accessed using a radio outdoors or when in a car. To easily remember the station, it’s a good idea to label your emergency radio with this station so you don’t forget.  

During the 2021 ShakeOut, Santa Monica will broadcast a ShakeOut drill message over the 1680AM radio station. Use this year’s ShakeOut as a time to test this important emergency communications tool.