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In 2011, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake originating in Louisa County, Virginia, caused an estimated $200-$300 million in damage, and caused landslides up to 150 miles away.

Visit Drop! Cover! Hold on! to test your earthquake knowledge and skill. Recommended earthquake safety actions [pdf]

Get your home ready for earthquakes

  • Secure tall furniture to the wall. Keep large or heavy objects on low shelves.
  • Store breakable items in lower cabinets with doors and latches.
  • Inspect and repair electrical wiring and gas connections; these can be potential fire hazards during an earthquake.
  • Secure your water heater by strapping it to wall studs and bolting it to the floor.
  • Check your home or building for structural defects and repair cracks in your ceiling and foundation.
  • Keep toxic and flammable items securely stored in cabinets with doors and latches.
  • Identify safe places in your home or office where you will ride out an earthquake. The best protection is under heavy furniture where you are protected from falling debris.
  • Learn how to turn off utilities.

Know what to do during an earthquake – Most deaths and injuries are due to falling walls, flying glass or debris.

  • During or immediately after an earthquake, the best protection is to get under heavy furniture, such as a desk, table or bench, staying away from glass.

  • The greatest danger is falling debris directly outside buildings, at exits and along exterior walls.

  • If you are already outside, stay clear of buildings, power lines, overpasses and elevated expressways.

  • Expect aftershocks – smaller quakes (and sometimes larger ones) that can often follow hours or days after the initial shake, causing further damage to weakened buildings and structures.

  • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing noise, open a window and leave the building immediately; turn off the gas at the outside main valve, if possible, and call the gas company.

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