Madison and the surrounding counties are not located in a major earthquake producing zone; however the New Madrid Fault seismic zone covers parts of five U.S. states: Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee.Even though the chance of a 7.0 magnitude major quake is minimal, a quake in the 4.0 to 6.5 range is possible. There is also the chance of damaging earthquakes from a geologically active zone in the Wabash River Valley of Illinois which produced a quake in 1980 that caused nearly three million dollars in damages in the Maysville area.
- Check for hazards that could make your home more dangerous during an earthquake. These include: Defective electrical wiring, leaking gas and inflexible utility connections are very dangerous. Bolt down water heaters and gas appliances.Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas and water at the main switches and valves. Check with your local utilities for instructions. Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves and fasten shelves securely to the wall. Brace or anchor high or top-heavy objects. Food glass containers, glass, china and other breakables should be stored on low shelves of cabinets that can be fastened shut. Overhead lighting fixtures should be anchored solidly in place. A little extra wire is usually all that is necessary. Deep plaster cracks in ceilings and foundations should be investigated and repaired by experts, especially if there are signs of structural defects.Be sure the house is firmly anchored to its foundation.
- Hold occasional earthquake drills so each member of your family knows what to do during an earthquake. Locate safe spots in each room – under sturdy tables, desks or something strong. Practice by physically placing yourself and your family in these locations. Identify danger zones in each room, for example areas which could be near windows or items that could fall over easily.
- Gather emergency supplies to prepare for evacuation if the damage from the earthquake is severe.
- Develop a family plan for reuniting after a quake. Establish an out-of-state telephone contact and leave notes for other family members if you must relocate.
- Review insurance to determine coverage for earthquake damage.Check chimneys for cracks and damage. The initial checks should be made from a distance. Have a professional inspect the chimney for internal damage that could lead to a fire.
- When the shaking stops, look around to make sure it is safe to move. Then exit the building.
- Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake. Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly and people with access and functional needs. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
- Call for help. Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.
- Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest emergency information.
- Go to a designated public shelter if your home has been damaged and is no longer safe. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345). Stay away from damaged areas.
- Stay away unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations. Return home only when authorities say it is safe..
- Be careful when driving after an earthquake and anticipate traffic light outages.After it is determined that it is safe to return, your safety should be your primary priority as you begin clean up and recovery.
- Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off of shelves.
- Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency by visiting: http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/emergency/index.html Put on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes and work gloves to protect against injury from broken objects. Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals. Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage-unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.
- Inspect utilities.
- Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
- Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
- Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.