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Great Shakeout Invites Illinoisans To Prepare For Earthquakes

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Demonstration of the "drop, cover and hold on" technique, at a Great Shakeout "Prepareathon".

CARBONDALE — Drop, Cover and Hold On. Those are the directions for everyone taking part in the annual Great Shakeout Earthquake Drill next Thursday.

Harvey Henson is a professor of geology and seismology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, in a part of the state where three seismic zones overlap — the New Madrid, Wabash Valley and Ste. Genevieve zones.

Henson says earthquakes occur on a regular basis in the region. Some quakes cause damage, such as the April 18 2008 earthquake in the Wabash valley Zone,  centered near West Salem and Mount Carmel, Illinois. The most severe quake known of in the region is the series of earthquakes that occurred in the New Madrid seismic zone in the winter of 1811-12, and felt throughout much of the central and eastern U.S. But many earthquakes striking Illinois are so mild that they go unnoticed by most people.

Henson says when an earthquake strikes, instinct may tell us to run. But he says the wiser response is to act immediately to protect yourself against falling objects shaken loose by the quake.

“It’s too late,” said Henson says of the instinct to run out to open ground in an earthquake. “No one’s that fast, to get out of the way. You might be running into something worse. You don’t want to get caught between a door that collapses, or a wall that falls over, or a bookshelf, or other people stampeding.”

Henson says the purpose of the Great Shakeout is to make the shelter-in-place response habitual.

“So we need to almost subconsciously respond, or know how to respond, to that shaking,” said Henson. “So this is why we drill.”

The drill promoted in the Great Shakeout is to drop to the ground, cover your head and neck with one arm and hand, and hold on to something until the quake stops.

The Great Shakeout takes place internationally, at 10:15 A.M. local time, on Thursday, October 15th. Individuals, families and groups such as schools, workplaces and faith communities are invited to register at the Shakeout website, (shakeout.org/centralus) and make use of its supplemental materials. More information on earthquake preparedness can be found at Illinois’ ready.gov page. 

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Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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