State officials used a worldwide earthquake drill this week to remind Illinois residents that there’s seismic activity in Illinois and that they should be prepared.

Nearly 300,000 Illinois residents took part in this week’s annual Great Shakeout earthquake drill. Illinois Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Rebecca Clark said earthquakes can happen anywhere.

The 1811 earthquakes in New Madrid, Missouri, near southern Illinois, were among the most powerful earthquakes ever to hit east of the Rockies. The series of quakes were felt as far away as Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

A 2008 University of Illinois study said that if a similar earthquake were to happen in the same spot today, it would result in 3,500 casualties. The study also estimated such an earthquake would leave about 2.6 million people without power and cause $300 billion in direct economic losses.

Clark was on hand Thursday at the At the Glenwood Elementary School in Sangamon County for the drill.

“[The drill is] an opportunity for everyone worldwide to recognize the risks of earthquakes and prepare for those risks,” she said.

Students practiced the three keys of what to do to stay safe during an earthquake; drop, cover and hold on. If you feel the earth shaking, you should drop to the ground, take cover under a desk or table, and hold onto it.

In addition to the New Madrid Fault Zone on the state’s western side, there is also the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone on the state’s eastern side.

Clark said both are “very active.”

The Wabash Valley zone produced an earthquake in 2008 that was felt in Springfield.

The Great Shakeout drill happens annually at 10:17 a.m. on Oct. 17.

“This preparedness drill raises awareness of the hazards that we often do not think about,” Acting IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau said. “The more we practice this critical preparedness drill – Drop, Cover, Hold On — the more prepared we will be if a disaster were to occur.”

Officials encourage anyone looking for information about earthquake preparedness to visit www.ready.illinois.gov.

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