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Why Should You Participate?

We all must get better prepared for major earthquakes, and practice how to protect ourselves when they happen. The purpose of the ShakeOut is to help people and organizations do both. You could be anywhere when an earthquake strikes: at home, at work, at school or even on vacation.

What we do now will determine our quality of life after our next big earthquake. Are you prepared to survive and recover quickly?

The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is an annual opportunity to practice how to be safer during big earthquakes: "Drop, Cover and Hold On." The ShakeOut has also been organized to encourage you, your community, your school, or your organization to review and update emergency preparedness plans and supplies, and to secure your space in order to prevent damage and injuries.

Registration totals from Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills across the U.S. are also included in America's PrepareAthon! participation totals.

Learn more below, or read answers to frequently asked questions.

benefits

Register today so that you or your organization will:

  • Be counted in the largest-ever earthquake drill in Central U.S.!
  • Be listed with other participants in your area (Optional)
  • Be an example that motivates others to participate & prepare
  • Be updated with ShakeOut news and preparedness tips
  • Have peace of mind that you, your family, your co-workers and millions of others will be better prepared to survive and recover quickly from our next big earthquake!

EARTHQUAKE HAZARDS

Overview

In the past 25 years, scientists have learned that strong earthquakes in the central Mississippi Valley are not freak events but have occurred repeatedly in the geologic past. The area of major earthquake activity also has frequent minor shocks and is known as the New Madrid Seismic Zone. The NMSZ is made up of several thrust faults that stretch from Marked Tree, Arkansas to Cairo, Illinois.

Earthquakes in the central or eastern United States effect much larger areas than earthquakes of similar magnitude in the western United States. For example, the San Francisco, California, earthquake of 1906 (magnitude 7.8) was felt 350 miles away in the middle of Nevada, whereas the New Madrid earthquake of December 1811 rang church bells in Boston, Massachusetts, 1,000 miles away. Differences in geology east and west of the Rocky Mountains cause this strong contrast.
New Madrid Seismic Zone. Central United States Earthquake Consortium.

Recent studies have indicated that the New Madrid Seismic Zone is not the only 'hot spot' for earthquakes in the Central United States. On June 18, 2002, a 5.0 magnitude earthquake struck Evansville, Indiana with an epicenter between Mt. Vernon and West Franklin in Posey County, in an area that is part of the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone. According to the Indiana University Indiana Geological Survey, while there was minor damage associated with the earthquake, the tremor was a warning to residents of the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone that earthquakes can, and do, strike close to home.

The Wabash Valley Seismic Zone is located in Southeastern Illinois and Southwestern Indiana and it is capable of producing 'New Madrid' size earthquake events. Since the discovery of this seismic zone, earthquake awareness and preparedness have increased. Residents are seeing that moderate sized earthquakes are not just occurring to the south, but occur right at home and can affect Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. Geologists in Indiana and Illinois have found liquefaction sites and sand dikes that shows the evidence of prehistoric earthquakes in the region. By examining the size of the dikes and sediment found within the sand dikes, geologists are able to estimate the size of the earthquake it took to create the formations.
Wabash Valley Seismic Zone. Central United States Earthquake Consortium.

Earthquake Hazard Information - USGS Publications

Putting down Roots in Earthquake Country - Your Handbook for Earthquakes in the Central United States

Bicentennial of the 1811—1812 New Madrid Earthquake Sequence December 2011—2012

Earthquake Hazard in the New Madrid Seismic Zone Remains a Concern


Earthquake scenarios for your drill

Earthquake information is available from the organizations below, as well as for each state:

Organizational Resources

Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium

USGS Central & Eastern U.S. Earthquake Hazards Webpage

Center for Earthquake Research and Information, University of Memphis

Center for Community Earthquake Preparedness, University of Mississippi

Mid-America Earthquake Center

Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research

Saint Louis University

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Why Drop, Cover, and Hold On?

Central US ShakeOut Drop, Cover, and Hold On Video, which features a "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" drill in action and talks about why this is the recommended method for protecting yourself during an earthquake:

Why is it important to do a Drop, Cover, and Hold On drill? To react quickly you must practice often. You may only have seconds to protect yourself in an earthquake, before strong shaking knocks you down--or drops something on you. Practicing helps you be ready to respond.

  • If you are inside a building, move no more than a few steps, then Drop, Cover and Hold On:
    • DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),
    • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
    • HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.
    Stay indoors till the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. In most buildings in the U.S. you are safer if you stay where you are until the shaking stops.

  • If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, you should find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines, then Drop, Cover and Hold On. Stay there until the shaking stops.

  • If you are driving, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Once the shaking stops, proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.

Ground shaking during an earthquake is seldom the cause of injury. Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths are caused by collapsing walls and roofs, flying glass and falling objects. It is extremely important for a person to move as little as possible to reach the place of safety he or she has identified because most injuries occur when people try to move more than a short distance during the shaking.

Look around you now, before an earthquake. Identify safe places such as under a sturdy piece of furniture or against an interior wall in your home, office or school so that when the shaking starts you can respond quickly. An immediate response to move to the safe place can save lives. And that safe place should be within a few steps to avoid injury from flying debris.

Further information:

Drop, Cover, and Hold On!


©2014 SCEC Southern California Earthquake Center @ USC
The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut Step 1: Secure it now! Step 2: Make a plan Step 3: Make disaster kits Step 4: Is your place safe? Step 5: Drop, Cover, and Hold On Step 6: Check it out! Step 7: Communicate and recover!