KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The state of Missouri is preparing to hold an earthquake drill next month and is calling on residents to participate.

The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) said recent disasters in Morocco and Turkey are reminders that earthquakes can be destructive — and deadly. Thousands have died in both quakes.

The agency also noted that one of the United States’ most active earthquake zones is in Missouri: the New Madrid Seismic Zone, centered in southeast Missouri.

In 1811-12, the New Madrid zone produced some of the most powerful earthquakes in U.S. history, SEMA said. If it were to happen again today, it would be felt across the Midwest, and there would be major damage and destruction.

Already, the New Madrid Seismic Zone is one of the most active zones in the country, with over 200 small quakes per year.

That’s why SEMA wants Missourians to be prepared. The agency is encouraging residents to register online for the 2023 Great Central U. S. ShakeOut earthquake drill on Oct. 19.

“Missouri is home to a very large and active seismic zone,” SEMA Director Jim Remillard said in a relase. “Earthquakes occur without warning, so it’s important to prepare now. The ShakeOut drill is a great opportunity to practice so you know what to do when the shaking starts.”  

Missouri is one of 14 central states participating that could be affected by a New Madrid earthquake.

SEMA said over 273,000 Missourians have already registered for the annual drill. Schools, businesses and organizations can register, as well as families and individuals.

The drill will start at 10:19 a.m. That’s when Missourians should practice the “Drop, Cover, Hold On” technique:

  • Drop to your hands and knees;
  • Cover your head and neck with your hands and arms under a table or desk if you can; and
  • Hold on until the shaking stops.

According to SEMA, falling debris is the most common source of injuries in an earthquake that happens in developed countries with modern structures. In the U.S., the “Drop, Cover, Hold On” technique is the best protection, experts say.