Earthquake Awareness Month in Missouri
Two hundred years ago, Missourians experienced powerful earthquakes in the Bootheel region of the state. Three earthquakes, estimated at magnitude 7.0 or greater occurred along the New Madrid fault in the winter of 1811-12.
Small earthquakes occur in the region daily. While earthquakes along the fault do not cause loss of life, they are a natural hazard that no one can predict. Fortunately, there are things everyone can do to be better prepared.
Each February Missouri observes Earthquake Awareness Month. To raise awareness, geologists with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources will partner with local, state and federal agencies and organizations by participating in a number of public activities by providing scientific data about the New Madrid Seismic Zone, mapping for risk assessment, and geologic information about the basics of earthquakes. Missourians are encouraged to attend any of the following public events. Other venues and activities may be added.
Prepare for an Earthquake
– Become aware of fire evacuation and earthquake safety plans for all of the buildings you occupy regularly.
– Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.
– Practice “drop, cover and hold on” in each safe place. If you do not have sturdy furniture to hold on to, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
– Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed in case the earthquake strikes in the middle of the night.
– Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation.
– Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
– Bolt bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs.
– Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
– Brace overhead light fixtures.
– Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
– Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
– Learn about your area’s seismic building standards and land use codes before you begin new construction.
– Keep and maintain an emergency supplies kit in an easy-to-access location.
If You Are Inside When the Shaking Starts…
– Drop, cover and hold on. Move as little as possible.
– If you are in bed, stay there, curl up and hold on. Protect your head with a pillow.
– Stay away from windows to avoid being injured by shattered glass.
– Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. — When it is, use stairs rather than the elevator in case there are aftershocks, power outages or other damage.
– Be aware that fire alarms and sprinkler systems frequently go off in buildings during an earthquake, even if there is no fire.
If You Are Outside When the Shaking Starts…
– Find a clear spot (away from buildings, power lines, trees, streetlights) and drop to the ground. Stay there until the shaking stops.
– If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. – – Avoid bridges, overpasses and power lines if possible. Stay inside with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Then, drive carefully, avoiding bridges and ramps that may have been damaged.
– If a power line falls on your vehicle, do not get out. Wait for assistance.
– If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris. Landslides are often triggered by earthquakes.
What to do when the Shaking Stops…
– After an earthquake, the disaster may continue. Expect and prepare for potential aftershocks.
– Each time you feel an aftershock, drop, cover and hold on. – – – Check yourself for injuries and get First Aid, if necessary, before helping injured or trapped persons.
– Put on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes and work gloves to protect against injury from broken objects.
– Look quickly for damage in and around your home and get everyone out if your home is unsafe.
– Listen to a portable radio for updated emergency information and instructions.
– Check the telephones in your home or workplace to see if you can get a dial tone. Make brief calls to report life-threatening emergencies.
– Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.
– Clean up spilled medications, bleach, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately.
– Open closet and cabinet doors carefully as contents may have shifted.
– Help people who require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or disabled.
– Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and stay out of damaged areas.
– Keep animals under your direct control.
– Stay out of damaged buildings.
– If you were away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so. Use extreme caution and examine walls, floors, doors, staircases and windows to check for damage.
– Be careful when driving after an earthquake and anticipate traffic light outages.
– Let Your Family Know You’re Safe
If your community has experienced a disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well web site to let your family and friends know you are safe. You may also call 1-866-GET-INFO to register yourself and your family.