Illinois to Participate in ‘The Great ShakeOut’ Earthquake Drill

A U.S. seismic hazard map indicates the risk near the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which covers part of southwestern Illinois. (U.S. Geological Survey)A U.S. seismic hazard map indicates the risk near the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which covers part of southwestern Illinois. (U.S. Geological Survey)

More than 300,000 people in Illinois are registered for a worldwide earthquake drill next month that encourages participants to drop, cover and hold – actions that could help you survive a quake.

At 10:19 a.m. on Oct. 19, millions of people in the U.S. and across the globe will participate in “The Great ShakeOut” earthquake drill. The drill is held annually on the third Thursday of October, with the time shifting to match the date. (Last year’s drill took place at 10:20 a.m. on Oct. 20.)

With less than a month before the drill, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and municipal and county officials are encouraging Illinois residents to register.

“Earthquakes occur without warning, so it’s important to know what to do as soon as you feel the earth shake,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph in a press release. “With two seismic zones in southern Illinois and residents who travel throughout the world, it’s important that everyone knows how to stay safe during an earthquake. The drill takes only a few minutes, but the lessons learned could save your life.”

The drill focuses on the drop, cover and ahold on actions: drop to the ground, take cover under a table or other piece of heavy furniture and then hold on until the shaking stops.

(Courtesy Southern California Earthquake Center)(Courtesy Southern California Earthquake Center)

Some of the most powerful earthquakes to ever occur in the U.S. happened in the winter of 1811-12 in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which reaches into southwestern Illinois. That series of earthquakes lasted for several months, and shaking was felt as far away as the East Coast.

According to IEMA, a similar earthquake today could cause catastrophic damage in a region that is much more developed and populated than in the early 1800s.

Schools, businesses, government agencies, families and others can register to participate in the drill on the event’s website

Registered participants will receive additional information about the drill and earthquake preparedness. Although the international drill takes place Oct. 19, individual drills can be conducted anytime within two weeks of that date.

Additional information about the earthquake risk in Illinois and steps to take before, during and after an earthquake is available here

Contact Alex Ruppenthal: @arupp aruppenthal@wttw.com | (773) 509-5623


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