Thursday, September 15, 2011

NPM11: Are You Earthquake Prepared?

Note: This is day 15 of National Preparedness Month.  Follow this year’s campaign on Twitter by searching for the #NPM11 hash tag.


This month, as part of NPM11, I’ll be rerunning some edited and updated older preparedness essays, along with some new ones.


# 5841


While many natural disasters – like hurricanes, wild fires, and tornados – have a `season’, earthquakes can come at any time and without warning.  As last month’s quake in Virginia demonstrated, even areas that rarely see seismic activity can be at risk.


While large earthquakes in the eastern half of the country are relatively rare, they do happen. As you can see by the map below, most of the United States is seismically active – with Alaska, Hawaii, the west coast, and the Midwest seeing the most – and strongest, quakes.



USGS map


We live on a planet where earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis occur with some regularity. Major earthquakes (7.0 Mag or greater) occur somewhere in the world roughly 17 times each year.



1. Based on observations since 1900.

2. Based on observations since 1990.

NOTE: The NEIC estimates that several million earthquakes occur in the world each year. Many go undetected because they hit remote areas or have very small magnitudes.

Source: National Earthquake Information Center, USGS


Seismically active areas of the world


Over the past two years earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, New Zealand, and Japan have killed tens of thousands of people, along with disrupting the lives of millions of others. 


An Active Ring of Fire


Original Map – USGS


And the effects of an earthquake can go far beyond the loss of life and property damage.  Ripple effects caused by economic losses can affect regions far removed from the epicenter.


Last June, in The Ripple Effect, we saw that 2/3rds of all businesses in New Zealand were economically impacted by the Christchurch earthquakes.


Before that, in Estimating The Economic Impact Of A San Andreas Quake, we saw a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report  that estimated the crippling impact a highly feasible (and long overdue) 7.8 magnitude Southern California earthquake would have on jobs and local businesses.


Download PDF file


The point being that when earthquakes happen, you don’t have to be physically injured to be seriously impacted. 


Hence the need for earthquake preparedness, even if you don’t live directly over a major fault line.



Working to improve earthquake awareness, preparation, and safety is, which promotes yearly earthquake drills and education around the country.




Upcoming drills include:

Future ShakeOuts (new and repeating):
The Great British Columbia ShakeOut, October 20, 2011 
The Great California ShakeOut, October 20, 2011
The Great Nevada ShakeOut, October 20, 2011
The Great Guam ShakeOut, October 20, 2011
The Great Utah ShakeOut, April 17, 2012
The Great Central U.S. Shakeout On February 7, 2012


For more on how you can prepare for `the big one’ (even if you live someplace other than Los Angeles), I would recommend you download, read, and implement the advice provided by the The L. A. County Emergency Survival Guide.





When it comes to extremely large quakes in North America, one of the areas considered most at risk is the Pacific Northwest (see Just A Matter Of Time).


Last January I profiled a Washington state based preparedness educator Carol Dunn, who maintains an excellent website on the hazards faced by those living in the Pacific Northwest called 2Resilience.




You’ll find numerous resources geared for professional first responders, citizen volunteers, and families, individuals, and businesses looking to improve their level of knowledge and preparedness.


Last December in Resolve To Be Ready In 2011 Toolkit, I highlighted a 24-page toolkit produced by FEMA,, and the Department of Homeland Security, along with the Ad Council to help promote better individual and community preparedness in 2011.




You can find the details on the website at:

This toolkit is well worth downloading (and sharing).


And to become better prepared as an individual, family, business owner, or community to deal with all types of disasters, I would invite you to visit the following preparedness sites.






Because no matter where you live, its just a matter of time before the next disaster strikes.

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