AKIN — If the ground beneath their classrooms starts shaking, Akin Community Grade School students know what to do: Drop, cover and hold.

“Stop what you’re doing, get down on your knees and hold on tight to your desk so it doesn’t fly away and things don’t hit you in the noggin,” Carter Akin said.

The scond-grader was among the thousands of Illinoisans who dove under their desks and held tight during The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut earthquake drill at 10:17 a.m. Thursday.

The drill is designed to get people thinking about earthquakes and what actions they can take before, during and after to survive the disaster, Franklin County Emergency Management Agency Director Ryan Buckingham said.

“Our region definitely faces the threat of a major earthquake because of the New Madrid and Wabash Seismic Zones,” Buckingham said. “An earthquake is a no-notice event and the drill highlights the fact that preparation is one of the most important keys to surviving an earthquake. You have to know what to do to ensure your safety.”

Akin principal Kelly Clark said that’s a message she tries to teach students in the rural Franklin County school.

“With an earthquake, there is no warning. When I talked to the students today, I told them there would be no alarm sounding or bell ringing and I wouldn’t be walking the halls with a foghorn,” she said. “If the earth starts to shake, they need to know what to do.”

Preparation and mitigation are important in making it through an earthquake safely.

“Taking steps to lessen the effects of a disaster before it happens and individual preparation will help you survive an earthquake,” Buckingham said. “In an earthquake, everything is going to be moving, even the heaviest desk will move. There are simple steps you can take to make sure items stay in place in an earthquake.”

Mitigation efforts include securing bookcases, cabinets and water heaters and removing breakables like decorative plates from high places, he said.

More information about earthquake preparation is available on the Ready Illinois website.

beckymalk@gmail.com

618-927-5633

On Twitter: @beckymalkovich

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