I was attending a class in Harrisburg last month when that infamous earthquake shook the East Coast. Since the class focus was social media – and we just so happened to be learning about Twitter at the time – our instructor jokingly suggested we search #earthquake. Wow! The tweets were scrolling by so quickly that we couldn’t read them fast enough! Once we knew what was happening and were able to focus back on the class, I started to think about what a great way using Twitter was/is to help us stay on top of the latest news. I also started to think that, even though there was no immediate damage and those of us in class were unharmed, the experience certainly raised questions about our preparedness for that kind of situation. While Twitter may be a great way to keep up with the latest news it does nothing to protect us during an emergency.
Many of us think earthquakes in the United States only occur in California and Alaska. While those states do experience the most damaging earthquakes, there have also been damaging earthquakes in the Northeast. In fact, in 1979 and 1980, New York State and the surrounding areas had 131 earthquakes ranging from 1-5 on the Richter scale (http://www.geo.mtu.edu/UPSeis/area.html ). Most injuries and deaths result from collapsing walls, falling objects, and glass falling or flying from windows. While there is nothing we can do to ensure we will never encounter an earthquake, there are steps to take during an earthquake which may help to prevent injury.
If you are indoors,
- drop, cover, and hold on until the shaking stops.
- stay away from windows in case of broken glass.
- If you are in bed, stay there, hold on, and cover your head with a pillow.
- stay inside until the shaking stops.
If you are outdoors,
- stay there.
- get away from power lines, buildings, and street lights.
- drop and cover.
- stay outdoors until the shaking stops.
If you are in a car,
- stop as soon as it is safe to do so.
- stay clear of power lines, street signs, and overpasses.
- leave your seatbelt on until the shaking stops.
- proceed with caution after the shaking stops -avoid bridges and other areas that may have been rendered unstable or damaged by the earthquake.
FEMA has a great website which further explains what to do before, during, and after an earthquake – http://www.fema.gov/hazard/earthquake/eq_before.shtm. In addition to being personally-prepared for an earthquake, it is also important to be financially-protected. Now would be a good time to talk with your insurance agent about earthquake protection. Different areas have different requirements for coverage so it is best to seek the advice of your insurance agent – he/she can review your existing policy and give you specific advice about earthquake protection (which, just like flood insurance, requires additional coverage).