Press Release

Department of Disaster Management
Release Date:
Monday, 7 October 2019 - 4:00pm

The Virgin Islands will join other countries throughout the Caribbean and around the world to participate in International ShakeOut Day next week.

International ShakeOut Day is held annually on the third Thursday of October and is set for October 17. During the self-led drill, participants will practice the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” technique to stay safe during earthquakes. 

The safe response to an earthquake, which is endorsed by Department of Disaster Management (DDM) and the global emergency management community, is to: 

DROP onto your hands and knees. This position protects you from being knocked down and allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if nearby.

COVER your head and neck with one arm and hand

  • If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter
  • If no shelter is nearby, crawl next to an interior wall (away from windows)
  • Stay on your knees; bend over to protect vital organs

HOLD ON until shaking stops

  • Under shelter: hold on to it with one hand; be ready to move with your shelter if it shifts
  • No shelter: protect your head and neck with both arms and hands.

If you are outside, stay outside, and keep away from buildings utility cables, and fuel and gas lines. Drop and cover your head and neck with both arms.


DDM’s Information and Education Manager Chrystall Kanyuck-Abel said the 6.0 magnitude earthquake on September 23 centred near Puerto Rico and widely felt in the Territory served as a reminder that earthquakes occur without any warning.

Ms. Kanyuck-Abel said, “While damaging earthquakes like the one in Haiti in 2010 may be few and far between, they can occur at any time wherever we work, live, or travel within the region and beyond. Everyone everywhere should know how to protect themselves during an earthquake.”

The ShakeOut is free and open-to-the-public, and participants include individuals, schools, businesses, local and state government agencies, and other groups.  To participate in the activity, individuals and organisations may join the drill by registering to participate at, or by calling the DDM at 468-4200. Participants are also encouraged to share images or videos of themselves practicing the drop, cover and hold on technique during the drill with the hashtag #BVIShakeOut.

To date, 50.8 million people are registered to participate in this global event. In addition to safety drills, the DDM encourages participants to take extra steps to become more prepared for earthquakes or other disasters such as reviewing and updating their family or business emergency plans.

DDM’s Training Manager Carishma Hicks is also encouraging businesses, schools and other entities to participate in the Great BVI ShakeOut to test their plans and to practice reacting to a strong quake.

Ms. Hicks said, “Research shows that exercises like the Great BVI ShakeOut can help save lives by ensuring that persons know how to react quickly and safely to protect themselves from the dangers of an earthquake.”

The Great BVI ShakeOut is coordinated by the Department of Disaster Management in partnership with the US Federal Emergency Management Agency, the US Geological Survey and other partners. The event is coordinated globally by the Southern California Earthquake Center at the University of Southern California.


Chrystall Kanyuck-Abel
Information & Education Manager
Department: Department of Disaster Management
Office: 468-4200 
Mobile: 468-9854