ShakeOut promotes seismic safety with Drop, Cover and Hold On


RICHMOND, Ind. – A severe earthquake could most certainly strike east-central Indiana.

And, if so, what would you do?

ShakeOut, an annual exercise scheduled for Thursday, encourages rehearsal of how to stay safe in the event of a severe earthquake. It’s a scenario more associated with California than Indiana, but two faults, the New Madrid Seismic Zone and the Wabash Valley Fault System, impact Indiana.

“This is one of those high risk, low probability events, but they’re the ones that catch us off guard,” said Matthew Cain, director of the Wayne County Emergency Management Agency.

The EMA will participate, he said, reviewing not only its own safety plan, but also the county’s contingency plan in the event of a devastating earthquake.

“We’re probably not pushing as much as we should,” Cain said.

According to EMA risk planning documents, 43 earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or greater have impacted Indiana since 1817. Most of Indiana’s seismic activity comes from southwestern part of the state and southeastern Illinois; however, a 3.3 earthquake was centered in Union County. Other recent earthquakes included a 3.1 magnitude earthquake centered at Vincennes in May 2010 and a 3.8 centered earthquake at Kokomo in December 2010.

Cain said many schools in Wayne County participate in the ShakeOut event each year and plan to do it again on Thursday. It is also a good time for any business or organization or anyone to review proper earthquake procedures. And it’s good to learn what to do in a variety of situations.

The basic premise for security is Drop, Cover and Hold On, according to ShakeOut’s website,, which is administered by the Southern California Earthquake Center at the University of Southern California.

When feeling an earthquake, a person should get on all fours on the ground to avoid being knocked down by the tremors. This position also allows crawling to any nearby shelter.

Once on your hands and knees, cover your neck and head with one arm and one hand. Find a sturdy table or desk to crawl under; otherwise, crawl near an interior wall. Stay on your knees and bend down to protect vital organs.

Under shelter, hold the shelter object with one hand and be prepared to move if the object does move. If shelter is not available, protect your head and neck with arms and hands.

Do not move to another location or go out, as the risk of injury increases when moving. Also, do not seek shelter in a doorway. Other parts of a house are just as strong as doors, and items such as tables or desks provide better protection against drops or flying objects.

If you are outdoors, you must move to an open area away from power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles, and other hazards, and then follow the Drop, Cover and Hold On protocol.

In a vehicle, come to a stop avoiding overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs, and other hazards, and apply the parking brake. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking stops, then proceed cautiously.

“This is an opportunity to think about it, and we ask citizens to think about it,” Cain said.

A large earthquake, he said, could be devastating for the region. Unlike California, Wayne County has older structures and buildings that are not designed to survive strong earthquakes.

“Our buildings would not withstand the level of severity that theirs could,” Cain said.

Indiana is grouped together in the central region of the United States for the ShakeOut event on Thursday. The recommendation is to have an exercise or drill at 10:18 am to review Drop, Cover and Hold On and any other special information applicable to a building or situation. The materials can be found online at, and participants are encouraged to register online to give an idea of ​​the number of businesses, schools, organizations, families and individuals participating.

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