The Great Central U.S. Shake Out earthquake drill scheduled for Thursday

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Over three million people in 14 central states including Missouri and Arkansas have already gone to shakeout.org/centralus to sign up to take part in the "Great Central U.S. Shake Out taking place at 10:18 a.m. on 10/18 (Thursday, October 18th.

It's an earthquake preparedness drill.

Go to the website and you'll see what the schools, businesses and home folks will be doing at that time as a video shows children going through the drop, cover, and hold-on technique that's being taught.

People are encouraged to get under a desk, beneath a door frame, or some other sturdy structure and to drop down, cover their head with one arm and hold on to something with the other.

"You want to protect your body, protect your head and protect your neck from falling debris," explained Larry Woods, the director of the Springfield-Greene Co. Office of Emergency Management.

But it's not just about protecting yourself. Just like a tornado, you need to be prepared for the aftermath as well.

"Having a kit, making sure that you have a plan for you and your family," Woods said.

"Prepare for 72 hours on your own," added Dr. Douglas Gouzie, a geology professor at Missouri St. University. "Food, water, the ability to cook without natural gas service or power and electricity."

The New Madrid Seismic Zone in southeast Missouri is considered one of the most dangerous earthquake zones in the country.

"What people may not know is one of the most powerful earthquakes in the United States occurred right here in 1811-1812 right here in the midwest."

But Springfield, located 251 miles away, does have a natural buffer zone that would cut down on the damage here.

"We have the St. Francis mountains," Gouzie explained of the range located northwest of the bootheel between the New Madrid Seismic Zone and southwest Missouri. "Those are ancient volcanoes and it's almost like a bridge with a river where one side of the bridge may not affect the other. So something in the New Madrid area probably won't really transmit that well to the KY-3 viewing area."

However, a large New Madrid earthquake could cause damage in big cities like St. Louis and Memphis.

"If you have high-frequency shaking, shaking very often (like near the epicenter), the short buildings will be the ones that wobble the most," Gouzie said. "But farther away you have low frequencies, and the buildings that shake the most with the low frequencies are the taller buildings."

So the local office of emergency management is encouraging everyone to at least take the time to talk with your family about what to do in the event of any natural disaster.

"We just always encourage folks anytime that we have these kinds of drills whether it's severe weather or it's earthquakes, it's a excellent time to make preparations," Woods said.