Author: Victoria A. Johnson
Johnson, V. A. (2013). An impact evaluation of ShakeOut, an earthquake and tsunami drill in two coastal Washington state school districts. GNS Science Report 2013/19.
Overview: In October 2012, Washington state participated for the first time in ShakeOut, an annual, one-day event that aims to inform the public about earthquake and tsunami preparedness and encourage residents to simultaneously practice “Drop, Cover and Hold On,” the recommended protective action during an earthquake. The aim of this evaluation was to see how well children in grades six through 12 in two coastal Washington state school districts understood the objectives and consequences of the protective actions practiced during the ShakeOut drill, including a practice of vertical evacuation inside the schools. Across both school districts, 29 teachers volunteered to participate and administered pretest and posttest questionnaires to 574 students, age 10 and older, in order to assess differences in students’ knowledge, skills and attitudes about disaster preparedness and protective actions as a result of participating in the ShakeOut drill.
Findings: The evaluation found that students had high levels of familiarity and correct knowledge about key protective actions for earthquakes and tsunami before ShakeOut, indicating that previous education and disaster drills in these two school districts have been effective in raising and maintaining children’s awareness of what to do during these disasters. However, for several questions regarding the causes of injury there was no significant improvement in knowledge due to ShakeOut, and significant portions of students had difficulty applying what they have practiced in the classroom to situations outside the classroom. Also, more than a quarter of students in both school districts did not know or were not sure if they participated a tsunami evacuation drill during ShakeOut. These results indicate that school-based disaster drills should be complemented with additional classroom lessons and discussion.