First Multi-State Earthquake Drill Held

On April 28, More than 3 million people in 11 states from Oklahoma to South Carolina took part in the first Great Central US “Shake Out.” The event was the first multi-state earthquake preparedness drill coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). While the week had already seen devastating tornadoes hit the area, over 2,016 schools, 268 businesses, and 611 local government agencies still participated in a simultaneous drop, cover, and hold at 10:15 a.m. Central Time.

According to a article by Phil Leggiere, students also learned about the New Madrid Seismic Zone and its earthquake history.

“The devastating storms and tornadoes that have impacted our nation this week are a vivid reminder that disasters of all kinds can strike at any time, and it is vital that all members of our nation's emergency management team — including the American public — are prepared,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, as quoted in the article. “The Great Central US Shakeout exercise will help millions of Americans know how to protect themselves in the event of an earthquake and strengthen the resiliency of communities across the central United States.”

Based on the region’s seismic activity history, the USGS estimates there’s a 7 to 10 percent risk of a 7-range earthquake on the New Madrid fault line in the next 50 years. This particular fault zone is six times bigger than the San Andreas fault in California, and according to Leggiere, the biggest earthquakes in U.S. history were caused by the New Madrid fault.

FEMA offers these safety tips to follow during an earthquake:

If indoors:

  • Drop to the ground, get under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture, and hold on until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, crouch in an inside corner of the building while covering your face and head with your arms.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside.

If outdoors:

  • Move away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires.

If in a moving vehicle:

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires.

If trapped under debris:

  • Do not light a match, cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing, and whistle or tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you.

For more information about the groundbreaking earthquake drill, read the full article:

For more information about staying safe during an earthquake, read the full article: