There are 45 states and territories throughout the U.S. that are at moderate to high risk for earthquakes. This includes the New Madrid fault line in the Central United States along which the most violent series of earthquakes in U.S. history took place between December 1811 and February 1812. Earthquakes happen without warning when subterranean rock breaks and shifts along fault lines causing a sudden, rapid shaking of the earth. Earthquakes often result in secondary disasters such as gas explosions, collapsing buildings and freeways, fires, landslides, and tsunamis.

  • If you are indoors when an earthquake starts, move to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
  • Do not try to leave your dwelling while the shaking is in progress.
  • If the earthquake occurs while you are in bed, cover your head and stay there.
  • If you use a wheelchair, lock the wheels and cover your head with your arms.
  • Do not attempt to use an elevator.
  • If you are outside when an earthquake begins, move to a clear area taking care to avoid power lines, trees and buildings.
  • Once the earthquake has stopped, check on neighbors and shut-ins.
  • Check your home for damages watching out for downed power lines and structural damage.
  • Only if you smell gas should you turn the gas off.
  • If you are in a vehicle when an earthquake starts, stop and pull to the side of the road.
  • Do not seek shelter under an overpass or bridge.
  • Earthquakes can cause a tsunami if you are on a beach. Move to higher ground.
  • Listen to local emergency officials for additional information and updates.

Other disasters include:

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