Earthquake Awareness: Personal Safety Comes First

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Release date: 
May 15, 2006
Release Number: 
1636-017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansans are encouraged to plan ahead for future earthquakes, officials from the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) announced today.

One of the most frightening and destructive phenomena of nature is a severe earthquake and its terrible after effects. According to the United States Geological Survey, Arkansas is considered to be among the states with a High Earthquake Risk: www.fema.gov/earthquake/your-earthquake-risk

The New Madrid Fault is the most seismically active region in the United States east of the Rockies. Over a three-month period during the winter of 1811-1812, the New Madrid Fault caused some of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded on the North American continent. The quaking continued over 18 months. The shocks rang church bells in Boston. Large areas sank into the earth, new lakes were formed, and the Mississippi River changed its course. The most powerful shock was estimated to be greater than magnitude 8.0 and occurred on February 7, 1812.

When the 1811-1812 earthquake hit, the region was still a frontier and sparsely populated. Such an event today would cause the potential loss of thousands of lives as well as untold devastation. There could be billions of dollars in damages to cities, bridges, roads, dams and other infrastructure. Since 1974, seismic detection instruments in the New Madrid Seismic Zone have recorded over 4000 minor earthquake tremors.

Establishing the probability for an earthquake of a given magnitude is an inexact science. However, with seismically active areas like the New Madrid Seismic Zone, it is not a matter of if, but of when. The general unpredictability of earthquakes emphasizes the importance of planning ahead to reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake.

"While homes and belongings can be repaired or replaced, lives cannot be replaced," said Federal Coordinating Officer Carlos Mitchell. "Make sure that all of your family and pets are included in your safety plans: identify safe places, educate yourself and your family, have disaster supplies on hand and develop an emergency communication plan."

Identify Safe Places Indoors and Outdoors

  • Under sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table.
  • Against an inside wall.
  • Away from where glass could shatter around windows, mirrors, pictures, or where heavy bookcases or other heavy furniture could fall over.
  • In the open, away from buildings, trees, telephone and electrical lines, overpasses, or elevated expressways.

Educate Yourself and Family Members

  • Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on earthquakes.
  • Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police or fire department and which media outlets to monitor for emergency information.
  • Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.

Have Disaster Supplies on Hand

  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit and manual.
  • Emergency food and water.
  • Non-electric can opener.
  • Essential medicines.
  • Cash, credit cards and vital documents.
  • Sturdy shoes.
  • Appropriate supplies, food and leashes for your pets.

Develop an Emergency Communication Plan

  • In case family members are separated from one another during an earthquake (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), develop a plan for reuniting after the disaster.
  • Ask a...
Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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