With a couple of earthquake faults cradling Illinois' southern region,the state’s emergency management agency says it’s important to know what to do if an earthquake breaks out.
At 10:19 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, the Great Shakeout is scheduled to take place. That’s when Illinois Emergency Management Agency Communications Manager Patti Thompson said people should practice the basics: drop, cover and hold.
“You should drop down to the ground,” Thompson said, “so that it doesn't shake you and you fall and hurt yourself. Take cover under some heavy piece of furniture like a table or a desk and then cover the back of your head and neck with your arms.”
Thompson said with the New Madrid fault and the Wabash Valley fault along the state’s southern region, earthquakes are a real threat.
“The New Madrid Seismic Zone is the more well known [fault],” Thompson said. Earthquakes there in the early 19th century were among the strongest
earthquakes in the U.S.
“But we’ve actually felt more activity in recent years out of the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone, which is on the southeastern side of the state,” she said.
University of Illinois Civil Engineering Professor Dan Abrams said there’s a low probability of earthquakes, but “when it does happen, it could be a big one.”
The Wabash Valley fault "is an extension of the New Madrid,” Abrams said. “We have had earthquakes there. It’s probably a less magnitude but more frequency. That’s still alive and kicking. We should be aware of that.”
Gas and pipelines could be impacted by an earthquake, and the damages could be even more severe than in California, he said.
“We should be cognisant of the risk, which would spread across a much greater area,” Abrams said.
Thompson said the Great Shakeout drill isn’t just good for local residents, but for those who are looking to travel.
“We have people in Illinois that travel all throughout the United States and around the world,” Thompson said. “And as you’ve seen,there have been some very major and very deadly earthquakes that have happened, most recently in Mexico.”
Thompson said what you shouldn't do if the ground starts to shake is to try running away, or run outside. That’s where you could encounter falling debris from buildings impacted by the shaking. If there ever were a severe earthquake, Thompson said IEMA is ready to work with emergency responders around the state in the recovery
There are more than 2.6 million registered participants for the central region of the U.S. More than 52.8 million people have registered worldwide.
For more information and to register for the Great Shakeout drill,visit Shakeout.org.