What to Do During an Earthquake

A brief description of actions one should take during an earthquake.

During the 5.9 magnitude earthquake that shook through Virginia and the Northeastern Seaboard, many of us experienced feelings of shock, anxiety, and fear. Since we had a moderate quake in the area, it is expected that we will also experience aftershocks. We have already felt many aftershocks since the earthquake, the latest of which was a 4.2 magnitude around 8:00pm EST. The Earth is not done shaking us around yet, so it’s time to think about what you should do to prepare for and endure an earthquake safely.

1. Keep a fire extinguisher, flashlight, extra batteries, a well-stocked first aid kit, and a battery-powered radio somewhere easily accessible. As many of us discovered today, earthquakes can significantly affect cell phone signals. These items can be life savers!

2. Remain calm during the earthquake. If you are inside, stay inside and find a safe place. Safe places include under heavy furniture, like the dining room table, or in against a wall in the center of the structre. (UPSeis, n.d.) Places to avoid include near any windows, doors, or other openings to outside. If you are outside, try to stay in an open area away from buidlings, trees, power lines, and other potential hazards that could fall on you. If you are in a car, stop driving and stay in the car. 

3. After the quake is over, be wary of unstable structures and damages to gas, power, and water lines. Broken lines can cause flooding, fire, and more. If you notice a broken line, report it. Stay away from all damaged areas as much as possible. 

4. Expect to feel the ground shaking as aftershocks occur. Generally, aftershocks are less severe than the original earthquake, but they can have some significant magnitude. 

Most importantly, stay safe! Now that we have experienced a moderate earthquake, it is important to implement a plan for the next go round!


UPSeis. (n.d.) What Should I Do Before, During, And After An Earthquake? Retrieved on August 23, 2011 from http://www.geo.mtu.edu/UPSeis/bda.html.

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