Earthquake Ready?

Photo by: Carola Solís / Chilean Red Cross


On December 1998 for approximately 15 seconds it seemed that I was in the center of the world. I was 13 years old when I experienced my first earthquake while on vacation with family in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo in Mexico. I had just finished swimming the beach and was ready to head to dinner at a local restaurant. I decided to walk-out of the house before the rest of my family watch the fireflies. As I started my descent down the stairs I felt a slight shaking. Standing alone at the center of the staircasethe vibrations of the earthshaking escalated slowly from the soles of my feet to the top of my hair. All thoughts vanished as time stopped, all I could feel was the gentle shaking beneath and the warmth of the air filling my lungs.
Since I was born and raised in Chicago, I was never educated on earthquake preparedness in school or at home. There is a misconception among people that an earthquake will not strike the Midwestern part of United States. We get tornados, blizzards, thunderstorms, and floodingbut not earthquakes. However, the probability that an earthquake will strike is higher than we expect.
Reality set in on April 18, 2008 when a 5.2 earthquake hit West Salem, Illinois. The shaking was felt in the Chicago land area. It was said to be one of the strongest earthquakes to hit this part of the country in 40 years. Those that felt the shaking in the early hours of the morning shared their experience through calls to radio stations and friends, but as the shock wore off, so did talk about
earthquake preparedness.
On January 12, 2010 we watched as a 7.0 earthquake devastated the island nation of Haiti. A year later we once again bared witness as a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the western coast of Japan causing a Tsunami. People around the world were able to see the true impact that an earthquake can inflict on a country and its people. Seeing the images of the search for the missing and hearing the stories of those who had been rescued, awaken within us our survivor instincts. We started to ask ourselves whether we were
prepared for an earthquakeor any catastrophic natural disaster.
Can a devastating earthquake the size of Haiti or Japan, strike the Midwestern United States?
It can. The Midwest is on one of the largest fault lines in the United States, called the New Madrid fault. The New Madrid Fault extends through northeastern Arkansas, southeastern Missouri, western Tennessee and Kentucky, and southern Illinois. According to USGS the probability of an earthquake of magnitude 7 or higher is of 7-10% and of magnitude 6.0 or larger is of 25-40%. With the potentiality of an earthquake striking, the Heartland of America taking measures to increase
preparednessis essential for damage control and to lessen the impact on people.
prepare people for earthquakes, the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago has joined The Greater Central United States Shake-Out initiative. The Shake-Out which will take place April 28, 2011 at 10:15 CDT, it is a large earthquake drill where people will practice to DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON! The purpose of The Greater Central United States Shake-Out is to inspire communities to get ready for earthquakes, and to prevent disasters from becoming catastrophes.
Here at the
American Red Cross of Greater Chicago we will be practicing DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON! These simple three steps can increase the probability of surviving and recovering from an earthquake.
Join us on April 28th 2011 at 10:15, register for free at 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.
During an earthquake remember:
• DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!)


• Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table


• HOLD ON to the table until the shaking stops.
For more information on Earthquake Preparedness visit


Written by Erica Serna


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