Small earthquakes occur frequently in our area of Missouri along the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ), up to 200 per year, that are infrequently felt by people. Though the last high-magnitude (7 or greater) quakes occurred more than 200 years ago, recent studies have shown that the threat of a large quake is still alive.
The USGS estimates the chance of our area having a magnitude 6 or larger earthquake in the next 50 years at 25 to 40 percent. Because a large NMSZ earthquake cannot be predicted, it is important to take steps to learn about preparedness measures and to protect yourself.
Before an earthquake:
- Identify safe spots and danger zones in each room.
- Create a kit with supplies.
- Know how to shut off all your home’s utilities.
- Be sure hour home is anchored to its foundation.
- Anchor overhead lighting fixtures.
- Store bottled foods, glass, china and other breakable items on low shelves or in cabinets that can fasten shut. Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
- Brace bookshelves and heavy furniture to walls to keep them from toppling.
- Repair defective electrical wiring.
- Install flexible lines to water heaters, gas stoves and other appliances.
- Securely fasten water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
During an earthquake:
- If indoors, take cover under sturdy furniture. Drop, cover and hold on until the shaking stops. This means DROP down to the floor, take COVER and protect your head and neck with your arms, and HOLD ON to the sturdy piece of furniture you are under until shaking stops.
- If outdoors, stay there. Move away from buildings, street lights and utility wires.
- If in a vehicle, stop as quickly as safety permits, and then stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses or utility wires.
After an earthquake:
- Check for injuries.
- Be prepared for aftershocks.
- Wear sturdy shoes in areas covered with fallen debris and broken glass.
- If the electricity is out, use flashlights or battery-operated lanterns for illumination. Check the main utility panel.
- If you smell gas or hear a hissing sound, then open a window and leave the building. Shut off the main gas valve outside the building.
- If water pipes are damaged, then shut of the water supply at the main valve.
- Check your home and chimney for structural damage.
- Check household appliances for damage.
- Clean up spilled medicines, cleaners, gasoline and other flammable liquids.
- Do not flush toilets until you know sewage lines are intact.
- Open cabinets cautiously because objects may fall off of shelves.
- Use the phone only to report a life-threatening emergency.
- Listen to news reports for the latest emergency information.
More information about how to prepare for an earthquake: ready.gov/earthquakes