Although most people associate U.S. earthquakes with the west coast, the phenomenon can strike anywhere.
Virginians learned that on August 23, 2011, when an earthquake of a 5.8 magnitude (and several 4.8 aftershocks) started in Louisa County and spread throughout the east coast, including the Middle Peninsula region.
The earthquake, along with one that struck the New York-Ontario border in 1944, was the largest to hit the east coast since 1897.
It is estimated that the 2011 Virginia earthquake was felt by one-third of the U.S. population, the most in U.S. history, and impacted people as far as Georgia, Illinois, New York, and Quebec.
Damage to Louisa County was estimated at $80.6 million, $63.8 million of which was due to public school building damage; several historical markers in Washington D.C., including the Washington Monument and Washington National Cathedral, also sustained damage.
This year, the Southern California Earthquake Center is encouraging east coast residents to participate in the SouthEast ShakeOut, on Thursday, October 17 at 10:17 a.m.
Nearly 1.5 million ShakeOut participants on the east coast, including the New Kent County Government and Schools, will practice the internationally recognized Drop, Cover and Hold On protocol to better protect themselves during earthquakes:
•DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!).
•Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table.
•HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.
According to the Earthquake Country Alliance, studies on earthquake injuries and deaths over the last several decades show that you are much more likely to be injured by falling or flying objects (TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases, etc.) than to die in a collapsed building, which is why Drop, Cover, and Hold On is the major earthquake protocol.
Those that live in earthquake-prone areas can also reduce chance injury or damage to belongings by securing them.
The Earthquake Country Alliance recommends securing top-heavy furniture to walls with flexible straps and using earthquake putty or Velcro fasteners for objects on tables, shelves, or other furniture, and install safety latches on cabinets to keep them closed.
In most circumstances, the Earthquake Country Alliance recommends that you Drop, Cover, and Hold On immediately.
However, earthquakes often hit without warning, and you might find yourself at the mall, in bed, at the beach, or somewhere else when it hits, which will effect how you get to safety.
It is important to note that for years, people were encouraged to move into a doorway during an earthquake, and that now safety experts are advising against it.
The initial advice came from the image of an adobe home in California with the door frame as the only standing part following an earthquake.
This only true if you live in an old, un-reinforced adobe house, according to Earthquake Country Alliance.
"In modern houses, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house. You are safer under a table," it reported.
If an earthquake hits when you're: