CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Would you know what to do if a strong earthquake struck West Virginia? Chances are the answer is “no.” Unlike the West Coast, where the earth rocks and rolls quite often, here in the East it’s not very likely to happen but it can and it does.
“We saw in the Virginia earthquake back in 2011 that a lot of people didn’t have any idea that there would be an earthquake in that region and when there was, they didn’t know what to do,” said Brian Blake, the program manager of the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium and the regional coordinator of the Great SouthEast Shakeout. The Virginia quake registered a 5.8 on the Richter Scale.
Thursday morning at 10:17am, Blake urges everyone to imagine an earthquake is rumbling below your feet and you need to get to safety. What do you do?
“Drop, cover and hold on,” according to Blake.
He said it’s simple advice and something you need to know and practice even if you don’t live in an earthquake prone zone.
“You drop to the ground, if you’re able. Take cover under something sturdy like a desk or a table. Then hold on until the shaking stops.”
If you happen to be outside, then you need to cover your head and neck with your arms as protection from falling debris.
Forty-three states are participating in the Great Shakeout. Blake said the goal is to get as many people involved as possible to prepare them for the worst.
“So we’re asking people, whether it’s an individual in their house or a school or business, at that time, they practice the recommended safety actions as if there was an earthquake,” he said.
Residents of central West Virginia have been feeling small quakes for years. Most of those are no more than a 2.3 on the Richter Scale and do very little damage. However, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, West Virginia is 1 of 39 states that have a moderate to high seismic hazard risk, most of that centered in southern West Virginia along a fault line.
Blake said it pays to be prepared. It could be a matter of life and death.