SPRINGFIELD – While some hazards such as storms, tornadoes and floods can be forecasted in order to provide advance noticed to residents in an area of danger, other hazards such as earthquakes cannot be predicted. Recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean are perfect examples that earthquakes can happen anywhere and at any time, including while you are at work, at home or on vacation.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that 500,000 detectable earthquakes occur in the world each year. The National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) locates about 20,000 earthquakes each year, or about55 earthquakes each day. Records indicate Illinois,and several other states in the central United States,experienced some of the largest earthquakes ever measured in North America. In recognition of the earthquake risk still posed today by the New Madrid and Wabash Valley seismic zones, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and local emergency management agencies will promote earthquake preparedness throughout February.
“Creating an environment of education, awareness and preparedness will save lives in Illinois,” said Alicia Tate-Nadeau, acting director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. “While we cannot predict when the next major quake will occur, we can help people learn how to protect themselves and reduce damage to their homes.” Learning how to “Drop, Cover and Hold On” can help people prevent injury during an earthquake. The phrase reminds people to drop down to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk, table or other furniture, and hold on to that object and be prepared to move with it until the shaking ends. Most casualties result from falling objects and debris caused by the earth shaking.
There are several steps people can take to help prevent injuries and property damage at home, including:
•Strapping water heaters and large appliances to wall studs•Anchoring overhead light fixtures
•Fastening shelves to wall studs and securing cabinet doors with latches
•Strapping TVs, computers and other heavy equipment to prevent tipping
•Learning how to shut off gas, water and electricity in case the lines are damaged.
Each year the Illinois Emergency Management Agency leads an initiative to register homes, businesses, schools and organizations in the world’s largest earthquake drill. This year’s earthquake drill will take place 10:15 a.m. Oct. 15 It’s never too early to register your participation in this potentially life-saving event. Register today at www.shakeout.org. Learn more about how you can prepare your home, business and family for an earthquake at www.Ready.Illinois.gov. Earthquake safety tips will also be posted throughout February on the Ready Illinois Facebook (www.facebook.com/ReadyIllinois) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/ReadyIllinois) pages.