Quake safety drills needed, even in Illinois

Illinoisans might not think much about earthquake safety. They should think again and learn what to do if a quake strikes. “The Great ShakeOut” drill is one such opportunity to do so.

“Stop, drop and roll” is the familiar phrase to remember whenever someone’s clothing catches fire.

That advice has been instilled into many people through fire safety drills.

If you stop moving, drop to the ground, and roll around, you are much more likely to put out the fire and safely survive a perilous situation.

There’s a similar mantra when it comes to surviving an earthquake, according to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

It could be summarized as, “Drop, cover and hold on.”

As reported by The Associated Press, state officials say if you are ever in an earthquake, you should:

1) Drop onto your hands and knees;

2) Cover your head and neck with one arm, or get under a sturdy desk or table; and

3) Hold on until the shaking stops.

But wait a minute, you might ask.

Earthquake safety drills for Illinoisans?

You bet.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency plans to conduct “The Great ShakeOut” drill at 10:19 a.m. Oct. 19.

Last year, nearly half a million Illinoisans participated. As of Tuesday, more than 334,000 were registered for this year’s event in categories such as individuals and families, schools, governments, hotels and lodgings, senior facilities, faith-based organizations, animal shelter and service providers, and health care organizations.

Such drills are worthwhile, given the power of earthquakes (consider the recent deadly quakes in Mexico) and the fact that parts of Illinois are at risk from two seismic zones: Wabash Valley and New Madrid.

In recent years, the largest quake in Illinois was a 5.4 magnitude temblor in the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone in Mount Carmel on April 18, 2008.

And the New Madrid Seismic Zone was the scene of the most powerful earthquakes ever in the continental U.S. during the winter of 1811-12.

Quakes like those could cause major problems across Illinois and in the Sauk Valley, so why not plan ahead?

It was only last year – Sept. 3, 2016 – that a 5.6 magnitude quake in northern Oklahoma was felt 700 miles away in the Sauk Valley.

Area residents from Milledgeville to Sterling to Dixon to Franklin Grove reported feeling the quake: a television shaking, a car swaying at a gas station, a patient feeling the quake at CGH Medical Center, a camper swaying.

Illinoisans should take earthquake safety seriously. “The Great ShakeOut” drill is one such opportunity to do so.

For more information, visit shakeout.org/centralus/illinois.

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