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Annual Earthquake Drill Shakes Things Up In Missouri, Illinois

This morning, residents of Missouri, Illinois, and seven other Central U.S. states participated in an earthquake preparedness drill.

The annual event is known as the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut. This year, close to three million people registered to participate.

Steve Besemer is the Earthquake Program Manager at the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency. He says earthquakes come without any warning, so it's important for everyone to be ready.

Besemer says people should take advantage of the annual drill to check their homes and businesses for anything that could fall on someone or block an exit during a quake.

"Are there things that could come down from the ceiling?" Besemer asks. "Do you have heavy light fixtures that don't have any sort of extra support for them? Do you have bookcases that are not secured to the wall, and maybe are a little bit top-heavy and capable of rocking back and forth and tipping over."

Besemer says people should also have an earthquake preparedness kit, with supplies like bottled water, canned food, and extra medicines.

He says if an earthquake does hit, the first thing people should do is drop to the ground. "Get underneath a desk or a table or something like that, which would give you some protection in case something comes down from the ceiling, or something tips over, such as a bookcase or file cabinet or something like that, and then hold on to that desk or table," Besemer says.

Besemer says if you're outdoors, you shouldn't try to run inside a building. Instead, he recommends getting down on the ground and staying away from structures, power lines, or anything else that could fall on you.


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Missouri Shake Out/SEMA /

Véronique LaCapra
Science reporter Véronique LaCapra first caught the radio bug writing commentaries for NPR affiliate WAMU in Washington, D.C. After producing her first audio documentaries at the Duke Center for Documentary Studies in N.C., she was hooked! She has done ecological research in the Brazilian Pantanal; regulated pesticides for the Environmental Protection Agency in Arlington, Va.; been a freelance writer and volunteer in South Africa; and contributed radio features to the Voice of America in Washington, D.C. She earned a Ph.D. in ecosystem ecology from the University of California in Santa Barbara, and a B.A. in environmental policy and biology from Cornell. LaCapra grew up in Cambridge, Mass., and in her motherâ