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Earthquakes are No Laughing Matter, but People keep Joking


• What do cows produce in an earthquake? A milkshake!
• What did the ground say to the earthquake? You crack me up!
• What’s the status of a nuclear reactor after an earthquake? Not cool.
• What is an earthquake’s favorite song? “Shake, Rattle and Roll!”
• What do people say when a building collapses in San Francisco? “It’s San Andreas’ Fault!”

Jokes like those have been around since the San Francisco earthquake killed more than 3,000 people on April 16, 1906 — or perhaps even since 1769, when the California’s first earthquake was recorded by the expedition led by Gaspar de Portola, governor of the Spanish colonial province. But earthquakes are no laughing matter.
California experiences more quakes than in any other state. Yet many Californians don’t feel at risk unless they live near the state’s well-known San Andreas Fault or the Hayward Fault.

That misconception gives millions of Californians a false sense of security. The truth is most people in California live within 20 miles of a major fault. Earthquakes affecting people and property can occur at any time, anywhere.

Southern California alone has about 10,000 earthquakes a year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most are too small to be felt. Hundreds are greater than magnitude 3.0, and about 20 a year are greater than magnitude 4.0. A big earthquake and its aftershock can produce more earthquakes of all magnitudes for months.
That’s why authorities in California are taking steps to ensure that citizens are educated and prepared for any earthquake disaster. April is “California Earthquake Preparedness Month.” Municipal agencies, schools and businesses are conducting readiness seminars, earthquake drills and other activities for “California Earthquake Preparedness Month.”
The state’s most recent big earthquake – 6.0 in magnitude — occurred in the Napa Valley of northern California on August 24, 2014, just eight months ago. It injured hundreds of people, wrecked homes and commercial property, disabled utility power for tens of thousands of residents and, overall, impacted more than 175,000 people. The estimated economic loss: More than $1 billion, according to the USGS.

Major earthquakes with magnitudes between 6.3 and 8.3 have occurred in California every 5.4 years on average for the last 200 years. Where will the next one strike? Nobody knows.

That’s why the American Red Cross and other agencies advise Californians and people in any at-risk earthquake zone, such as Missouri, Alaska, Nevada and Washington, to prepare with these precautions:

  • Keep an earthquake survival kit in your home, car and place of work with food, portable lights, emergency radio, packaged food, water and medical supplies.
  • Brace bookshelves and filing cabinets at work and home against the wall.
  • Be aware of fire evacuation and earthquake plans for all buildings you occupy regularly.
  • Pick safe places in your home, workplace or school, such as under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you. Avoid basements.
  • Practice “drop, cover and hold” to protect yourself. Kids and seniors should do the same.
  • If you don’t have something sturdy to hold on to, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
  • Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench for that purpose.
  • If you are in bed during an earthquake, 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 it is safe to exit.
  • Use stairs rather than an elevator in case there are aftershocks, power outages or other damage.
  • If you are outside when the earth starts shaking:
  • Drop to the ground. Stay put until the shaking stops — away from buildings, power lines, trees and streetlights.
  • If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. Avoid bridges, overpasses and power lines. Stay inside with your seatbelt on 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!


Brian Houser of Quake Kare Points out, ““A recent earthquake in La Habra in Los Angeles County measured a magnitude of 5.1 and caused more than 100 aftershocks that were felt for days.
“California is a leader in disaster response and recovery capabilities, but firemen, police and other first responders can’t do everything by themselves to help ensure public safety in an earthquake or other emergency.
“Every citizen, every business and every organization needs to take steps to be prepared when disaster hits and not just for earthquakes but for floods, tornadoes and potential acts of terrorism,” Houser says.
“In today’s world, we must be prepared for any unexpected disaster. No matter where we live, there’s potential for catastrophe, whether natural or manmade. The best advice is to prepare yourself and your family with the best tools and precautionary procedures to stay as safe as possible.
“Have a survival kit, make a plan and stay informed. Being prepared can save your life!”

For tips on building your own earthquake survival kit, visit  http://www.quakekare.com/earthquake.html

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Teaching Kids About Earthquakes

earthquakes for kids

If you are looking for fun, engaging ways to help your kids learn about earthquakes, look no further than the US Geological Survey (USGS). USGS offers lots of activities and information for kids of all ages.

Have some fun with puzzles and games or learn fascinating earthquake facts. Check out the science of earthquake and even get ideas for your school’s science fair.

If you homeschool, you’ll find tons of resources for your curriculum. You can even create a unit study with enough material to teach multiple ages.

Ready to find out more? Check out USGS Earthquakes for Kids page and turn your child into an earthquake expert. Then let them help go through your emergency earthquake kit so they understand how to be prepared when an earthquake strikes.

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How to Survive an Earthquake

how to survive an earthquake


Earthquakes are not only terrifying; they can be deadly. In 2012, there were over 700 deaths from earthquakes. Learning how to survive an earthquake is essential if you live in any area that is prone to earthquakes.

Who Gets Earthquakes?

Did you know that there are only 8 states that do not report earthquake activity? These states are:

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • North Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin

The remaining 42 states are affected by earthquakes. States with the most earthquakes are:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Nevada
  • Washington
  • Idaho
  • Wyoming
  • Montana
  • Utah
  • Oregon

Even though an earthquake may not occur in all these states, it is often felt in the states surround the one struck by an earthquake. It may still cause damage and injuries or death. Therefore, in addition to having a survival kit and first aid kit, it is essential for the majority of people in the U.S. to know how to survive and earthquake when one occurs.

Survival Myth

One common myth is to use the “triangle of life.” This idea was spread via email and was written by Doug Copp from American Rescue Team International. He claims that taking cover under an object that creates a void, often in a triangle shape, is the safest thing to do.

His email states, “…when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them. This space is what I call the ‘triangle of life‘”

Drop, Cover, and Hold On!

To practice this method:

  • Drop to your knees, before you are knocked down by the shaking.
  • Cover your head and neck under a sturdy table or desk.
  • Hold on to your shelter object and be ready to move if necessary.

If there is nothing to take shelter under, get down against an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms. You should also make sure heavy items in your home are secured and use an earthquake kit to make your home safer.

Watch a demonstration of how to survive an earthquake in this video:

Image credit: USGS

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Earthquake Prep for the Central U.S.

earthquakes in central us

Most people think of California when they think of earthquake country, but the fact is, the Central U.S. has moderate to light earthquake fairly often, and larger earthquakes that will cause damage are expected to occur in the near future.

Would it surprise you to learn that there are 150 earthquakes each year in the Central U.S.?

Sadly, most people in the Central U.S. don’t think they are in any danger from earthquakes, so they do not prepare. If you live in the central U.S., take steps now to be reduce damage and injuries in the event of a major earthquake where you live.

If you live in an older home, be sure it is retrofitted to meet current codes for earthquake safety. Your home should be bolted to its foundation, the water heater should be strapped and furniture should be secured. If you have a chimney, it may need to be strengthened to keep it from collapsing. Get an earthquake kit to help you get your home secured.

You should also have emergency kits for your home, car and place of employment. A quake can occur at any time, and the resulting damage to roads and buildings may make it impossible to get home, so you will need to have emergency supplies with you.

Medical services and banks may be disabled after an earthquake, so be sure you have cash on hand, as well as a first aid kit and other essential medical supplies.

Look into a separate earthquake policy to cover any damage your property may sustain. Contrary to what many people think, a standard homeowner’s policy will not usually cover earthquake damage.

For more tips on how to prepare for an earthquake in the Central U.S., download the free PDF Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country from Earthquake Country Alliance.

Image credit: Earthquake Country Alliance

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2013 Central U.S. ShakeOut!

On February 7, 2013 you can participate in the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut! So far there will be 1.2 million participants. Will you be one of them?

The central states participating this year include Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi. To take part, you must first fill out the registration form. Then get ready to Drop, Cover and Hold On where ever you happen to be at 10:15 am on February 7th.

You can take part in this drill individually, as an organization or as a business. Spread the word, because the more people who know what to do in an earthquake, the better prepared we can all be to get through it safely.

This is also a great opportunity to teach your family what to do in the case of an earthquake.

To prepare, make sure to review the Earthquake Safety PDF so everyone understands what to do.You can also download a PDF for Earthquake Preparedness for People with Disabilities.You should discuss preparedness to be sure everyone has their minimum of three-days supply of food and water. Discuss other ways of being prepared as well, such as having an earthquake kit and first aid kit.

You can find plenty of additional educational resources by visiting ShakeOut.org.

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