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Are You At Risk Of An Earthquake?

are you at risk of an earth equake

There are hardly any sections of the United States that can be considered to be completely safe from earthquakes.  Possibly the safest areas are the upper Midwest and parts of Texas and Florida – all the rest of the country can be subject to earthquakes.  While the damage can be relatively minor, in regions such as along the middle of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, there is the chance of significant damage not only on the West Coast, Alaska, and Hawaii, but also in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, coastal South Carolina, and the area around Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming.  Earthquakes are among the most destructive and dangerous natural disasters and the best way to survive a serious earthquake is by preparing for it beforehand.

Why Earthquakes Occur

Most earthquakes are the result of the action of the earth’s plates against one another.  Some of these tectonic plates are grinding alongside each other, as is the case with California.  In other areas, often along coasts, one plate will be moving beneath another one.  The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan was caused by subduction.  The coast of Alaska is another subduction zone and very severe earthquakes are possible here. 

Faults are actually breaks in the earth’s crust and are also excellent places for earthquakes to occur.  Most faults are associated with the boundaries of tectonic plates, however the faults in the New Madrid area are isolated from plate boundaries and are something of a mystery.

Preparing For An Earthquake

A major earthquake will generally cause massive disruption of services as well as destruction of property and loss of life.  If you live where an earthquake is likely to occur, it is only wise to accumulate emergency supplies in case vital services are unavailable after a tremblor.  Make sure that you have enough water to last one week, which means a gallon per day per person – and do not forget to have some for pets!

If your home is destroyed or badly damaged, you will need an alternative shelter.  A quality tent is one approach to this, although even a tarp and plastic sheeting can go a long way to providing shelter in an emergency.  Make sure that emergency blankets are available and extra clothing.  A first aid kit will be a necessity.

Making Your Home Safer

Check for cracks in the foundation and chimney, and if any are found, patch them immediately.  All heavy pieces of furniture in the house should be bolted to the floor so that they will not be able to topple on anyone.  Do not put heavy items on shelves and do not put large pictures or other decorative items above couches or chairs.  Your water heater should have a belt around it to secure it to the wall, and make sure you know how to turn off the gas, water, and electricity.

Remember that if an earthquake does occur, try to get outside as quickly as possible – use a window if it is available.  If you are unable to get out, position yourself in the ‘triangle of life’ next to a large, substantial piece of furniture; if the building collapses, a small safe zone will be created there.

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