Are You At Risk Of An Earthquake?
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
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
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
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.
The Triangle Of Life