Are you prepared if the “big one” hits? Thursday’s “Great ShakeOut” earthquake drill gives you a chance to find out.

For the first time, residents in the District, Maryland and Virginia will participate in an annual earthquake preparedness drill along with millions of people nationwide.

During the “Great ShakeOut,” participants in homes, schools, offices and elsewhere are urged to practice techniques for staying safe during a trembler.

The so-called “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” strategy is straightforward, organizers say. Just drop to the ground, cover your head and hold onto something sturdy.

“Drop, Cover, and Hold On” helps minimize injuries during intense shaking and in the presence of falling debris.

The drill will begin at 10:18 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18.

ShakeOut drills began in 2008, but this is the first time the event includes the Southeast U.S. The region includes D.C., Maryland and Virginia, as well as Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Drills will also be held Thursday in Alaska, Arizona, British Columbia, California, Guam, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Washington, and southern Italy.

Organizers estimate that about 14 million people, including 9.3 million in earthquake-prone California, will take part.

While earthquakes aren’t especially common in the Southeast, the Washington area was caught by surprise when a 5.8-magnitude quake hit in August 2011, followed by dozens of aftershocks over the next several months.

There were no serious injuries reported, but many buildings and monuments in D.C. and Virginia — including the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral — were damaged in the original quake.