Virginians can still sign up for annual earthquake drill
RICHMOND, Va. – Approximately 800,000 Virginians have signed up for the Great SouthEast ShakeOut, a multistate earthquake drill set for Oct. 15 at 10:15 a.m. To encourage participation, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has proclaimed the date Earthquake ShakeOut Day.
The annual earthquake drill provides Virginians with the opportunity to learn what to do when an earthquake hits. In the U.S., people should not run down stairs or outside during an earthquake. Instead, emergency management and preparedness experts agree that DROP, COVER AND HOLD ON is the safest response to reduce injuries and deaths:
DROP to the ground (before the shaking drops you).
Take COVER under a sturdy desk or table if possible, protecting your head and neck.
HOLD ONto the desk or table until the shaking stops.
The Great SouthEast ShakeOut is open to everyone: individuals, families, businesses, organizations, government agencies, schools and colleges.
To register, go to www.ReadyVirginia.gov or www.shakeout.org/southeast, where information about how to conduct a drill is available. You can hold your drill at any time within two weeks of Oct. 15.
More than 1.5 million people have signed up so far for the Great SouthEast ShakeOut, which will be in these states: Delaware, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. When compared to all states participating in the national drill, Virginia is typically second only to California in the number of people who have registered.
Coordinating partners for the Great SouthEast ShakeOut include the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). ShakeOut originated in California, where statewide earthquake drills have been held annually since 2008, and has grown to be an international program with 26.5 million people participating in 2014.
Virginia experiences earthquakes each year, but only a few are felt. Since 1977, more than 195 quakes have been detected as originating beneath Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. Of these, at least 29 were large enough to be felt at the Earth’s surface. This averages out to about six earthquakes per year, of which one is felt.
The Aug. 23, 2011 earthquake centered near Mineral, Va., was felt by one-third of the U.S. population from Georgia to Maine and it did over $200 million in damage. Earthquakes like that one can cause sudden and intense back and forth motions of several feet per second. They can cause the floor or the ground to jerk sideways out from under you, while every unsecured object around you could topple, fall, or become airborne, potentially causing serious injury.
Now is a good time to check your home for unsecured objects that could move, break or fall as an earthquake shakes your home. Pay attention to tall, heavy or expensive objects like bookcases, home electronics, appliances and items hanging from walls, especially over beds, tables, desks or chairs. FEMA recommends that you secure those items with flexible fasteners, such as nylon straps, or relocate them.
Keep in mind that aftershocks follow earthquakes. The 5.8 magnitude quake in Mineral was followed by a 4.5 aftershock a day and a half later, along with 450 aftershocks with a magnitude greater than 1.0 from Aug. 24, 2011 to May 2, 2012, the USGS reported.