‘ShakeOut’ earthquake drill dry run and chance to prepare yourself

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Students practice "drop, duck and cover" during a 2015 "Shakeout" earthquake drill. This year the drill will be repeated at exactly 10:20 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20 throughout the Ozarks.

Students practice “drop, cover and hold on” during a 2015 “Shakeout” earthquake drill. This year the drill will be repeated at exactly 10:20 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20 throughout the Ozarks.


Ozarkers were reminded of the potential impact of earthquakes throughout the Midwest when the four-state region when a 5.6-magnitude earthquake on Sept. 6, 2016, near Pawnee, Okla.. More than 200 miles away, the quake rattled Springfield and the Ozarks. Residents in six states felt the rumbling hundreds of miles from the epicenter.

The Ozarks will almost certainly feel the impact if the New Madrid Seismic Zone comes even close to its potential along the Mississippi River as it did from 1811-12 produced some of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in the continental U.S. The fault line includes much of southeast Missouri and the zone extends to parts of the Ozarks.

All the better then that more than 450,000 Missourians are already registered to participate in the 2016 Great Central U. S. “ShakeOut” earthquake drill on Thursday, Oct. 20. A major earthquake in this area could result in catastrophic damage in much of southern and eastern Missouri, including the St. Louis area. Springfield would likely become a major post in providing treatment for the injured.

The drill teaches people how to protect themselves in an earthquake. More than two million people are signed up in 14 central U.S. states that could be impacted by a major New Madrid Seismic Zone earthquake.

At exactly 10:20 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20, participants will practice “Drop, Cover, Hold On”:

  • DROP to your hands and knees, under a table or a desk if you can;
  • COVER your head and neck with your hands and arms; and,
  • HOLD ON until the shaking stops.

Experts say “Drop, Cover and Hold On” is the best way to protect yourself from falling debris, the most likely cause of injury during an earthquake in developed nations with modern building standards.

“It’s very important for people to immediately know what to do to protect themselves because earthquakes occur without warning,” says State Emergency Management Agency Director Ron Walker. “If you and your family know in advance how to react and take cover, it could prevent serious injury.”

To sign up for the ShakeOut, visit www.shakeout.org/centralus. Once registered, participants receive regular updates on the drill, as well as information on earthquake preparedness and safety. The ShakeOut website also includes many resources, including manuals, videos, audio drill broadcasts and earthquake scenarios.

The annual “Shakeout” is also a good time for individuals and families to think about preparations on a personal level for an earthquake scenario.

To learn more about earthquakes in Missouri and how to prepare, visit www.sema.dps.mo.gov/earthquake_preparedness. The site includes brief videos that show how to conduct a ShakeOut drill.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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