Great ShakeOut is a reminder to review emergency preparedness

October 17, 2023
By Denise Kern, Division of Public Health

This Thursday, Oct. 19, marks the Great Idaho ShakeOut. As part of the worldwide Great Shakeout, it’s a day dedicated to reflecting on and preparing for the possibility of a significant earthquake. At 10:19 a.m. local time, people throughout Idaho will participate in the ShakeOut, engaging in earthquake safety drills within their homes, workplaces, and community organizations.

The Great Idaho ShakeOut provides an array of valuable resources, including instructional manuals and guidelines for conducting earthquake safety drills in schools, workplaces, museums, and government offices.

Earthquakes, however, aren’t the sole natural disaster concern in Idaho. This week’s ShakeOut is a reminder that Idahoans should be ready for a variety of emergency situations, such as floods, droughts, wildfires, or severe blizzards. Preparedness is about minimizing the immediate adverse impacts when disasters occur and starts with devising a well-thought-out plan that facilitates swift communication and connection with family and friends in times of crisis.

In the event of a public health emergency, access to essential resources such as food, water, and medications may become limited. To ensure readiness for all public health emergencies, individuals, families, businesses, and communities can take a few straightforward steps:

How to prepare:

Create a comprehensive plan that covers the acquisition or provision of five fundamental necessities: water, food, energy, shelter, and security.

Safeguard copies of essential documents, including medication lists, marriage certificates, birth certificates, and medical insurance information.

Additionally, your plan should address:

  • The safest routes to reach safety within your home and away from it.
  • Methods of communication during a crisis, considering the potential failure of phone lines and cell towers.
  • Reunification procedures after a disaster strikes.
  • Establishing communication signals with your family and designating a point of contact with a person who lives outside your immediate area. This person can serve as a central hub for everyone to check in. During a crisis, sending text messages may be more effective due to the likely overload of phone call networks.

When to prepare:

Preparation for an emergency should start well in advance of an event. Your plan should be created and practiced. Early preparation should also involve assembly of an emergency preparedness kit that you or your family can quickly access.

For additional information on emergency preparedness, you can visit DHW's Emergency Preparedness webpage, where you will find resources to help you assemble a kit, formulate a plan, and stay informed about potential emergencies.

Denise Kern is the public health preparedness and response section manager in the Division of Public Health.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at 

Join the Discussion

Please note the following terms of participation in commenting on the DHW Voice blog.

To ensure a productive discussion you agree to post only comments directly related to this post and to refrain from posting obscenities; threatening, abusive or discriminatory language; sexually explicit material; and other material that would violate the law if published here; promotional content; or private information such as phone numbers or addresses. DHW reserves the right to screen and remove inappropriate comments.