When you think about earthquakes, you probably associate this disaster mainly with California. Truth is, an earthquake can happen anywhere I the United States and Canada.
In fact, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), nine states experienced a major earthquake-7.0 or greater-in the last 200 years: Alaska Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Washington.
Another fact: The central Mississippi Valley region has more earthquakes than any other part of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains.
Which means, regardless of where you live, you may want to familiarize yourself with ways to stay safe if an earthquake strikes.
The best protection during an earthquake is to get under heavy furniture, such as a desk, table or bench.
The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exists and alongside exterior walls.
Fatalities often happen when people run outside of buildings and get hit by falling debris from collapsing walls.
Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury.
Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass and falling objects.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has information to help you prepare for all types of disasters, including earthquakes.
Here are a few safety tips:
* Check your home for hazards -- make sure shelves are fastened securely to walls; large, heavy objects and breakable items are stored on lower shelves; pictures and mirrors are hung away from areas where people sit and sleep; check for defective electrical writing and gas leaks as these pose potential firs hazards.
* Identify safe places in each room -- under sturdy furniture, against an inside wall, away from where glass could shatter or heavy furniture might topple.
* Locate safe places outside -- open spaces away from failing debris and electrical lines.
* Have disaster supplies on hand -- flashlights, portable battery-operated radio, batteries, first aid kit and essential medicines, emergency food and water, hand-operated can opener, cash and credit cards, and sturdy shoes.
* Develop an emergency communication plan -- in case family members get separated, have a designed place to meet, ask an out-of-state relative to be your family contact and make sure everyone has the phone number.
A little advance planning can help you and your family weather disasters of any kind safely.
And remember: Earthquake damage is generally not covered by your homeowners insurance. So include your insurance agent in your planning.