Wednesday, January 18, 2012
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Are you ready for the ShakeOut? Earthquake drill
Feb. 7 has over 1 million signups and counting

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[January 18, 2012]  Two hundred years ago, a series of major earthquakes struck the Mississippi River Valley along the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Recent events remind us that damaging earthquakes can happen at any time. With more than 40 million people living and working in the region today, a major earthquake would cause widespread damage and disruption.

What we do now, before a big earthquake, will determine what our lives will be like afterward. With earthquakes an inevitable part of our future, we must act quickly to ensure that disasters do not become catastrophes.

The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut in February will involve more than 1 million people through a broad-based outreach program, partnership with the media and public advocacy by hundreds of partners. This event is being organized by the Central United States Earthquake Consortium and the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The ShakeOut will be centered around a simultaneous "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" drill at 10:15 a.m. CDT on Feb. 7. "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" is the easy-to-remember and recommended personal protective action to take in the event of an earthquake.

Feb. 7 is also the 200th anniversary of the last of the 1811-12 earthquakes that destroyed the town of New Madrid, Mo., and created Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee.

A key aspect of the ShakeOut is the integration of earthquake research and the lessons learned from social science research about why people get prepared for disasters. The result is a "teachable moment" on par with having an actual earthquake (often followed by increased interest in getting ready for earthquakes). The ShakeOut creates the sense of urgency that is needed for people, organizations and communities to get prepared, to practice what to do to be safe, and to learn what plans need to be improved. The ShakeOut inspires communities to work together toward disaster preparedness and sets aside specific time for them to take proactive action to become better prepared.

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The 2012 ShakeOut drill will follow on the success of the 2011 drill, when more than 3 million people participated in the largest preparedness event in central U.S. history.

Interested participants are encouraged to go to and pledge their family, school, business or organization's participation in the drill. Registered participants will receive information on how to plan their drill and how to create a dialogue with others about earthquake preparedness.

It is a two-minute commitment for something that can save your life. It all begins with registering, which is free and open to everyone.

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