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Students and staff prepare for an earthquake with the Great BC ShakeOut

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Knowing what to do is key to minimizing damage or injury in any type of emergency. Today, on October 15, at 10:15am, thousands of students across the Vancouver School District – and across the province – are practising how to react should an earthquake hit. It is the annual Great BC ShakeOut. 

“Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” is the familiar phrase that could be a lifesaver in the event of a real emergency. When students and staff hear the sounds of a mock earthquake over their school’s PA system, they drop to the ground, take cover under a table or desk and hold on. They remain there until 60 seconds after the mock shaking stops. They evacuate at the closest emergency exit and walk to their emergency assembly area outside. 

The COVID-19 pandemic means a few details about the drill are different in 2020 than in previous years. Staff must ensure students maintain physical distance when they drop, cover, and hold on. They also should plan the drill on a schedule that prevents students from gathering in an area at the same time and Learning Groups from mixing. To make sure physical distancing guidelines are adhered to, emergency evacuation areas outside a school may differ from previous years. 

Stephen Leung, principal of Sir William Van Horne Elementary says knowing what to do in an emergency situation, when to do it, and what to do afterwards is very important for students and staff. “Having a chance to practice with real action with classmates and colleagues is also an important part of all emergency drills,” shares Leung. “And the practice allows us to make any changes in the interest of improving our response for the future,” he adds. 

For more information on the Great BC ShakeOut and what to do in an earthquake, visit and read the Great BC ShakeOut Factsheet. 

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