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Earthquake Tips from the Disaster Experts

Earthquakes in Montana since 1900. Courtesy Montana Department of Heath and Human Services

I remember distinctly, several years ago, we were working on a reconstruction project and it seems that the structural engineer had recommended a lot of overkill.  When I brought this to his attention, he said, “Mark, it’s only a matter of time until Montana gets hit with some earthquakes, and when it does, it’s going to be a real eye opener for a lot of people”.  As most Montanan’s know, we sit right on top of numerous fault lines and volcanic activity, making it one the most prone to earthquakes in the country.  2017 has been a very active year with a major quake, measuring a magnitude of 5.8,  arousing residents all over Montana last night (July 6) at about 12:30 AM.

The quake was one of the leading stories across the nation: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/06/535741701/montana-earthquake-is-felt-for-hundreds-of-miles-early-thursday

An earthquake in 1959 resulted in Quake Lake in Southwestern Montana. Courtesy USGS

Some things that you should consider as you prepare for earthquake activity:

  • Know where your gas, power, and water line shut offs are located and how to turn them off.  Gas line leaks were reported in Helena last night, a gas leak could result in an explosion which could cause more damage than the earthquake itself.  Because of the risk of gas leaks, you should avoid candles and lighters after an earthquake, if you lose power. Instead, use flashlights and headlamps.
  • If you don’t have an emergency plan for your family- you should develop one right away. The Gallatin County Emergency Management Department has a great resource for this right here: https://www.readygallatin.com/community-resources/family-emergency-plan/
  • Duck, Cover, and Hold- https://www.readygallatin.com/download/website/handouts/earthquake/EARTHQUAKE_DUCK_COVER_AND_HOLD.pdf
  • Identify the safest places in your home, if an earthquake were to strike.  Stand near walls and under heavy furniture, stay away from windows and doors where glass might shatter and cause injury.
  • If buildings are damaged, don’t enter them until they have been inspected.  Be particularly careful around chimneys and other rock or brick structures.
  • As in any emergency, stay calm.  Panic will only make matters worse.

Earthquake monitoring website: https://earthquake.usgs.gov/data/dyfi/

Resources from Montana Health and Human Services: http://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/PHEP/YourPreparedness/BeInformed/Earthquake