Southeast Missouri – home to the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) – has produced some of the strongest earthquakes ever to rock North America. In 1811-1812, a series of major quakes destroyed several settlements and dramatically affected the landscape, even briefly causing the Mississippi River to run backward. The seismic zone is still active today, averaging more than 200 small earthquakes each year.
The NMSZ experiences several small quakes monthly and in most cases, people are unaware of the quake and feel no shaking at all. On Thursday, Sept. 12, the NMSZ experienced a 3.7 magnitude quake, making now a good time to review these safety tips for your home and at Southeast.
Before a quake:
- Secure hanging items, bookcases and water heaters to wall studs.
- Keep an emergency kit and update the supplies on an annual basis. Include a flashlight, batteries, first-aid kit, necessary medications, radio and enough drinking water and food for at least three days. A major earthquake could knock out utilities for weeks.
- Create a family communication plan. Identify someone living at least 100 miles away that everyone can contact to “check in” and let your family know they are safe.
- Know how to turn off your gas and water.
- Find out if your house is covered for earthquake damage and if not, consider obtaining coverage. Most homeowner earthquake insurance policies must be purchased separately.
During a quake:
- If indoors — take cover under sturdy furniture or against an inside wall, hold on, “Drop, Cover and Hold On.” Stay away from the kitchen.
- If outdoors — stay there. Move away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires.
- In a high-rise building — take cover under sturdy furniture away from windows and outside walls. Stay in the building on the same floor. An evacuation may not be necessary. Wait for instructions from safety personnel. Do not use elevators.
- In a vehicle — stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses or utility wires.
What to do immediately after an earthquake:
- Check for injuries.
- Be prepared for aftershocks.
- Wear sturdy shoes in areas covered with fallen debris and broken glass.