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Are You Really Ready for a Big Quake?

Adam Ray Published: March 13, 2014

We know that Oklahoma is shaking more than ever before recorded. But because most of us have not been jolted in the epicenter of a recent quake, we may not be taking the threat seriously.

We have all heard that we should stand in a doorway during a quake, but that turns out to be poor advice. Are we really prepared for a large magnitude earthquake?

The Grapes of Wrath crowd who travel between California and Oklahoma might be familiar with earthquake protocol, but I wanted to strengthen and deepen my earthquake knowledge and make sure my family is prepared.

I made a Google map of Oklahoma’s earthquakes in January and February of this year.

Before the Quake

When I was young, my mother always had a family disaster plan. We always had a place we would meet if there was a fire, and we always had a tornado plan. But I never imagined my family would need an earthquake plan. The quakes have been relatively minor in 2014, but with the reported link of disposal wells to earthquakes and the large amount of production locally, it is entirely feasible to expect more – and heavier – earthquakes in the future.

I began to research earthquake safety tips and found that there were many simple things that I was doing wrong. To be prepared for quaking, you need to prepare your living space.

The number one step to minimize risk in your home is to move bookshelves and other tall items away from beds and couches, and to place heavier objects on lower shelves to minimize risk of falling objects. Also, secure any appliances that could easily topple over like a water heater or stackable washer/dryer.

Ensure that Everything is Insured

Protecting the physical safety of your family is your number one priority. But you should also have a plan to insure your home against potential earthquake damage.

Homeowners should consider each aspect of their home’s construction, contents, and its susceptibility to damage. Carter Steph with 1-800-2 Sell Homes explains:

“Some policies have different deductibles for different structures, such as the main house, a storage shed, or a fence . . ..Some resulting damage after an earthquake may not be covered, such as a resulting fire that damages the structure or damage to a vehicle from a garage collapse. . . Make sure you know what is fully covered and what is not”.

While I was considering my home’s construction, I wondered about the threat of unseen roof damage in a swarm of mild earthquakes like this. Okies are no strangers to having a roof replaced with the hail storms that hit us every year. Nik Paleson from Elliott Roofing clarifies:

“Unless the foundation was structurally unsound or it was an unusually terrible earthquake, it’s not really going to affect the roof.”

During the Quake

The Earthquake Country Alliance suggests that in your family’s disaster plan, every family member should know what to do before, during, and after a quake. Make sure your plan includes evacuation and reunion locations and plans.

“In most situations, you will reduce your chance of injury if you:
DROP Down onto your hands and knees (before the earthquake knocks you down). This position protects you from falling but still allows you to move if necessary.
COVER your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under a sturdy table or desk. “

The Doorway Myth

An enduring earthquake image of California is a collapsed adobe home with the door frame as the only standing part. From this came our belief that a doorway is the safest place to be during an earthquake. True- if you live in an old, unreinforced adobe house. In modern houses, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house. You are safer under a table.

Earthquake Country Alliance has an extensive list of safety practices and resources for before, during, and after an earthquake.

As long as we are prepared for a disaster, we need not fear After the Quake. Okies have been through a lot and we know we can survive anything.


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