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One-minute drill good safety idea

There was a time, and it hasn’t been that long ago, when an online search for North Texas earthquakes would have turned up few hits.

Most North Texans — unless they happened to be traveling in an area where earthquakes were common — had about as much chance of experiencing an earthquake as they did of getting a close-up look at a tsunami.

But study your natural history and you will find that many scientists believe that during the Cretaceous period, much of Texas was underwater.

That was a very long time ago, of course, but it does show that conditions change, and today, earthquakes are being felt more frequently in North Texas.

Some blame the growing number of earthquakes in recent years on the state’s heightened energy activity, but whatever the reason, people are feeling the tremors.

Luckily, most of the earthquakes have resulted in little or no damage, and the general reaction has been curiosity and surprise rather than panic.

But anyone who has ever felt an earthquake — whether they knew what it was at the time or not — will tell you that it’s a frightening experience.

Even more frightening is the thought of continued earthquake activity and the possibility that more severe tremors may be in our future.

That’s why we’re interested in an event set for today called the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut, a one-minute drill planned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The drill will be conducted at 10:15 a.m.

Earl Armstrong, spokesman for FEMA’s office in Denton, told us that officials are asking everyone in the region to participate in the drill.

The public is asked to drop where they are, find a place that will provide cover and hold on for support. Armstrong said the “Drop! Cover! Hold on!” message is intended to heighten awareness and to help keep people safe.

The event is usually conducted twice a year, and this is the region’s third time to participate.

Armstrong admits that most people think the threat of earthquakes here will never be serious enough to cause concern, but he said the drill will provide a good opportunity to think about safety.

Sure, the basic fundamentals of the drill probably remind people of a certain age about another type of drill conducted by government agencies back during the Cold War, but there is a major difference — earthquakes are being reported more often in North Texas, and there really are things that you can do to protect yourself and your family should one occur.

Plus, there’s one point that many drill detractors may have forgotten about. Some states with a high incidence of earthquakes have tougher building standards that are designed to help safeguard structures in the event of severe tremors. States where earthquakes are uncommon probably have more relaxed building standards.

Today’s drill may not seem all that important, but we encourage you to give it some more thought. Taking a minute or two to think about safety could be the first step toward a more secure future.

The more we can learn about preparing for and surviving dangerous situations, the better off everyone will be.