While California has been the state most prone to serious earthquakes in recent years, there are many other fault zones in other areas of the United States. For example, geologists and seismologists have predicted a 97 percent chance of a major earthquake in the New Madrid seismic zone of the central United States (including Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky) between now and the year 2035. While earthquakes with the power of the one that hit the greater Los Angeles area in January 1994 are fairly rare, less severe earthquakes can interrupt your normal living patterns and cause substantial injury.
During a major earthquake, you may hear a roaring or rumbling sound that gradually grows louder. You may feel a rolling sensation that starts out gently and, within a second or two, grows violent.
Or, you may first be jarred by a violent jolt. A second or two later, you may feel shaking and find it difficult to stand up or move from one room to another.
The real key to surviving an earthquake and reducing your risk of injury lies in planning, preparing, and practicing what you and your family will do if it happens.
Earthquake practice drills
By planning and practicing what to do if an earthquake strikes, you and your family can learn to react correctly and automatically when the shaking begins. During an earthquake, most deaths and injuries are caused by collapsing building materials and heavy falling objects, such as bookcases, cabinets, and heating units. Learn the safe spots in each room of your home. If you have children, get the entire family to practice going to these locations. Participating in an earthquake drill will help children understand what to do in case you are not with them during an earthquake.
Make sure you and your child also understand the school's emergency procedures for disasters. This will help you coordinate where, when, and how to reunite with your child after an earthquake.
During your earthquake drill:
Get under a sturdy table or desk and hold on to it.
If you're not near a table or desk, cover your face and head with your arms; and
stand or crouch in a strongly supported doorway, or
brace yourself in an inside corner of the house or building.
Stay clear of windows or glass that could shatter or objects that could fall on you.
Remember: If inside, stay inside. Many people are injured at entrances of buildings by falling debris.