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Preparing for the ‘Big One’

The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is Feb. 7

Schools, businesses and anyone who is interested in being prepared is asked to participate in the next Great Central U.S. ShakeOut next month.

Last year, the Ohio Grade School was one of the schools in the county to participate, and Superintendent Sharon Sweger said students will once again learn how to take shelter under their desks if an earthquake should hit.

“Being prepared for emergencies is vital in all schools,” Sweger said. “It’s crucial for the kids to learn these skills.”

Over 810,000 people are currently registered to participate in the 2013 ShakeOut Drill, including 135,542 from Illinois.

Feb. 7 is the 201st anniversary of the last of the 1811-12 earthquakes that destroyed the town of New Madrid, Mo.

While North Central Illinois is not considered by many to be an earthquake hotbed, Illinois is at risk from two major seismic zones, the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone and the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). The Wabash Valley Zone is located between Southeastern Illinois and Southwestern Indiana. The NMSZ is located in the Central Mississippi Valley and includes portions of the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee. During any 50-year time span, there is a 25 to 40 percent chance of a magnitude 6.0 or greater earthquake in this seismic zone.

Since 1974, the year network monitoring of seismic activity began, more than 3,000 earthquakes have been recorded in the NMSZ. The largest earthquake in recent years occurred on the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone. This earthquake registered a magnitude of 5.4 and occurred in Mt. Carmel on April 18, 2008.

The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is a nine-state drill spanning much of the central United States. Last year more than 12.5 million were registered in ShakeOut drills worldwide.

This year’s event is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. Feb. 7. Participants are asked to register at

The site also includes information on what to do when the shaking begins, including the Drop, Cover and Hold On drill.

ShakeOut activities for Illinois are supported by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. For more information on ShakeOut activities in Illinois, you can contact your State Earthquake Program Manager or FEMA Regional Earthquake Program Manager.

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