Practicing earthquake safety on International ShakeOut Day

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(WFXR) — You could be anywhere when an earthquake strikes: at home, at school, or even on vacation. A special event on Thursday will allow you to practice what to do when the ground underneath you starts to move and shake.

International ShakeOut Day is always slated for the third Thursday of October. For 2020, this date falls on October 15.

At 10:15 a.m. on Thursday, more than 700,000 people in Virginia will drop, cover, and hold on as if an earthquake was really happening.

Although quakes are not frequent in Southwest and Central Virginia, they could still strike at any time.

On August 9, 2020, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake occurred in Sparta, N.C. at 8:07 a.m. While the epicenter of the quake took place just south of the Virginia-North Caroline line, weak tremors were felt in the Roanoke Valley and the greater-Lynchburg area.

Louisa County, Va. experienced a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in August 2011. Two buildings collapsed in the town of Mineral, Va., and minor structural damage was reported as well. Two nuclear reactors were shut down due to the quake, but no damage was reported. Tremors from this earthquake were felt in several states along the East Coast. Some minor injuries were reported.

A 2.7 magnitude earthquake also impacted Louisa County on February 3, 2020. There were no reports of damage or injuries. However, the quake was picked up on seismometers at the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg.

When an earthquake strikes, it’s important that you DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON

  • If you are inside a building:
    • DROP to the ground,
    • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
    • HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops. Stay indoors till the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. In most buildings you are safer if you stay where you are until the shaking stops.
  • If you are outdoors when the shaking starts, you should find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines, then Drop, Cover and Hold On. Stay there until the shaking stops.
  • If you are driving, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Once the shaking stops, proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.

It’s important to identify safe places, such as under a sturdy piece of furniture or against an interior wall in your home, office or school, so that when the shaking starts you can respond quickly.

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