Last week’s enormous earthquake in Japan and the ripple effects it had – a tsunami, destruction at a nuclear power plant, deaths, injuries, and humanitarian needs – heighten our awareness of our vulnerability from earthquakes in the United States again. And areas along the Pacific Ocean are not the only ones at risk of a major catastrophe.
With more than 40 million people living and working in the central United States, a major earthquake could cause unprecedented disruption and devastation.
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 April 2011 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 its member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. The ShakeOut will be centered around a simultaneous drop, cover, and hold drill that will be
held at 10:15 AM CDT on April 28, 2011.
A key aspect of the ShakeOut is the integration of comprehensive science-based earthquake research and the lessons learned from decades of social science research about why people get prepared. The result is a “teachable moment” on par with having an actual earthquake (often followed by increased interest in getting ready for earthquakes). 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.
Not just any drill will accomplish this; it needs to be big. It must inspire communities to come together. It must involve children at school and parents at work, prompting conversations at home. It must allow every organization, city, etc., to make it their own event.
This is also a good time for utilities and other water systems – and their leadership – to consider their disaster plans. Are you disaster-resilient? What would you do in the event of an earthquake to keep your water or wastewater plant operating? Do you have contingency plans for obtaining drinking water or getting emergency assistance from a nearby system? These are things to consider as you think about a major disaster hitting your area
The 2011 ShakeOut drill will be the largest earthquake preparedness event in central U.S. history. To participate, go to www.ShakeOut.org/centralus and pledge your 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.
All organizers ask is that participants register (so they can be counted and receive communications), and at the minimum practice "drop, cover, and hold on" at the specified time.
It is only a five minute commitment for something that can save your life. It all begins with registering, which is free and open to everyone.