Great ShakeOut earthquake drill to take place Oct. 17

American Red Cross reminds Americans how to stay safe during an earthquake

NASHVILLE — Did you know earthquakes can occur anywhere, but most quakes in this country happen in Alaska and California? Are you aware 45 states and territories in the United States are at risk of earthquakes?The most earthquake-prone areas include Charleston, South Carolina, eastern Massachusetts, the St. Lawrence River area and the central Mississippi River Valley. Tennessee is also considered a high-risk earthquake area. 

Because so much of the country is at risk, we all should take part in the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill this Thursday, Oct. 17, and join millions of people who will practice earthquake safety during the drill. The American Red Cross urges everyone to practice what to do if an earthquake occurs.

“The potential for seismic activity in East Tennessee pales in comparison to the potential for it on the western side of the state, where much stronger quakes occur in the New Madrid region,” said Joel Sullivan, regional executive for the American Red Cross of Tennessee. “Tennessee is deemed as one of the 16 states at highest risk for an earthquake, so it is important to take note, and be prepared if one hits the Volunteer State.” 

Tennessee has recorded four “significant” earthquakes in the past 25 years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Two of them were this year. Tennessee had 301 quakes in 2018, the highest amount in the past 25 years, according to USGS data.


Earthquakes strike suddenly, without warning and can occur at any time of the year, day or night. During an earthquake, do not try to move around. Drop, cover and hold on. Try to protect your head and torso. If you are sitting at a desk or table, get under it. Otherwise drop wherever you are.

  • If you are in bed, stay there, curl up and hold on. Protect your head with a pillow.
  • If you are inside, stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. When it is, use stairs rather than the elevator in case there are aftershocks, power outages or other damage.
  • If you are outside, find a clear spot (away from buildings, power lines, trees, streetlights) and drop to the ground. Stay there until the shaking stops.
  • If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. Avoid bridges, overpasses and power lines if possible. Stay inside with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Then, drive carefully, avoiding bridges and ramps that may have been damaged.
  • If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris. Landslides are often triggered by earthquakes.

Download the free “Red Cross First Aid” app for instant access to expert first aid advice right at your fingertips. Use the free app “Emergency” for tips on what to do before during and after an earthquake and other disasters. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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