Two years ago, you probably didn’t give much thought to what to do in the event of an earthquake. They certainly didn’t happen very often here.
But on Aug. 23, 2011, approximately one-third of the United States population was startled by the sudden ground shaking from a rare magnitude 5.8 earthquake in central Virginia. That’s more than any other earthquake in U.S. history.
Small earthquakes occur every month in the eastern U.S., but that was among the largest to occur in this region in the past century.
Thursday, at 10:18 a.m., federal officials are sponsoring the “Great ShakeOut” earthquake drill to remind everyone (but especially students) what to do in the event of an earthquake. Millions of people have participated in the ShakeOut drills since 2008, though this will be the first year an earthquake preparedness drill has been officially held in the southeast.
If you are indoors when a quake hits, you should “drop, cover, and hold on.” Drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on to it firmly. If you are not near a desk or table, drop to the floor against the interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms. Avoid exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances, and kitchen cabinets with heavy objects or glass.
If you happen to be outdoors, move to a clear area if you can safely do so. Avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles, and other items that could fall on you. If you are driving, pull over to the side of the road, stop, and set the parking brake. Avoid stopping under overpasses, bridges, power lines, or traffic signs. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over.
Be prepared. We found out last year that earthquakes can hit any time.