History shows South Carolina is an earthquake prone state, and we all need to know what to do if a major earthquake occurs.
Admittedly, Sunday morning's 3.4 scale earthquake was the first one I've felt this year. And while the majority of my family slept through it, it got me thinking about the fact that I know little to nothing about how to plan for and react during an earthquake--which seems a bit odd since our state has experienced a couple of major earthquakes in the past.
According to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD):
Several areas of South Carolina regularly experience earthquakes and have experienced strong earthquakes in the past. While there is currently no reliable method for predicting the time, place, and size of an earthquake, there is consensus among seismologists that where earthquakes have occurred before, they can again. Additionally, our geographic location means that a major earthquake anywhere in the Eastern United States could adversely affect us, causing damage.
Luckily, the SCEMD has a wealth of resources available on its website as well as its social media platforms.
After going down quite the rabbit hole, here are the top five things I learned:
1. Drop, Cover, Hold On is a Thing! 🛋️
As a child of the 80s and the wife of a first responder, Stop, Drop and Roll is eternally etched in my brain. However, I was totally unfamiliar with Drop, Cover, Hold On.
Injuries and deaths caused by major earthquakes over the last several decades show you are much more likely to be injured by falling or flying objects (TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases, etc.) than to die in a collapsed building. In most other situations, “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” will protect you from most of these injuries. This involves dropping to the floor, crawling beneath a sturdy desk or table, and holding on – the table may shift and move during the earthquake, so hold on and prepare to move with it.
Learn and practice “Drop, Cover, Hold On! in a variety of different situations: https://www.earthquakecountry.org/dropcoverholdon/
2. Stay in Bed 🛏️
If you are in bed when a major earthquake occurs, the best thing to do is to stay there and cover your head and neck with a pillow. Studies of injuries in earthquakes show people who moved from their beds would not have been injured if they had remained in bed.
3. Know How & Where to Shut Off Utilities 🔌
It's important that all household members know how to shut off natural gas, water and electricity after a natural disaster. Ground movements can lead to gas and fuel leaks in pipes, cutting of electrical cables, etc. The destruction of water pipes can also make it harder to get such resources should they occur.
Additionally, if you've lost power, don't forget to turn off or disconnect any appliances, equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When the power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage already fragile equipment.
Learn how to locate and shut off utilities, here: www.ready.gov/safety-skills
4. Driving is Different 🚗
Unlike during a hurricane or tornado, the SCEMD recommends that you should pull over to the side of the road and stop but avoid overpasses (and power lines) AND stay inside your vehicle until the shaking stops.
They also offer a wealth of tips for other scenarios like being in a high-rise or crowded store, here: https://bit.ly/3IaNbhf
5. Be Prepared for At Least Three Days 🍼🍽️🍎🔦
If a major earthquake occurs, you will probably be on your own for three days or more if roads or bridges are damaged and/or blocked. Be prepared to take care of your family until help arrives.
This checklist from the SC Emergency Management Division can help you develop a supplies kit:
- Non-perishable food
- Drinking water, one gallon per person per day
- Flashlights, extra batteries, and bulbs
- Battery-powered AM/FM radio or hand crank radio and
- NOAA weather radio with extra batteries
- First-aid kit and manual
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Non-electric can opener
- Essential medicines, including prescriptions
- Complete change of clothing including a long-sleeve shirt and long pants
- Sturdy shoes
- Masks to guard against dust
- Baby supplies
- Fire extinguisher
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates, utensils, and paper towels
- Important family documents
- Paper and pencil
- Books, toys and games
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
P.S. There's an App for That 📱
Was that an #earthquake?! Where was it?! How many have there been?! When was the last one?! Click around and find out with the dedicated earthquake tools in the SC Emergency Manager mobile app.
You can keep count of all earthquakes when they happen in the state and even get notified if an earthquake occurs.
To learn more about Earthquakes in South Carolina and how to stay prepared, check out the SCEMD's Earthquake Guide, here.