Drop, cover and hold on for the Great SouthEast ShakeOut

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – About 800,000 Virginians are signed up for the Great SouthEast ShakeOut, a multistate earthquake drill set for today at 10:15 a.m.

The annual earthquake drill provides Virginians with the opportunity to learn what to do when an earthquake hits. To encourage participation, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has proclaimed October 15 as Earthquake ShakeOut Day.

You shouldn’t run downstairs 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 ON to the desk or table until the shaking stops.

You can hold your drill at any time within two weeks of Oct. 15. The event is open to everyone: individuals, businesses, families, government agencies, organizations, schools and colleges.

To register, go to www.ReadyVirginia.gov or www.shakeout.org/southeast.

More than 1.5 million people have signed up so far for the Great SouthEast ShakeOut in states including Delaware, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, the Commonwealth and Washington, D.C.

Virginia is typically second only to California in the number of people who have registered when compared to all states participating in the national drill.

The Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are all coordinating partners for the event, which originated in California, where statewide earthquake drills have been held annually since 2008. It has since 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 was felt by one-third of the U.S. population from Georgia to Maine. Over $200 million in damage was done. Earthquakes like that one can cause sudden and intense back and forth motions of several feet per second and the floor or ground can 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.

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