Posted at 2 p.m.
An earthquake can happen at any time and in any place, including here in Northern Virginia. In August 2011, there was a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that was felt across the region.
Be sure to prepare before an earthquake by developing a family communications, an emergency kit and a personal support team.
In this video, Courtney Arroyo of the county’s Office of Emergency Management, discusses what to do during an earthquake — drop, cover and hold on — as well as instructions for persons with disabilities, mobility issues, pregnant women, mothers with infants and others who may be at work or at home.
Take the first step to preparing for an earthquake and other emergencies by signing up for emergency alerts from Fairfax Alerts.
The Great Southeast Shakeout Earthquake Drill
You can also be prepared for an earthquake by joining your neighbors across the southeastern U.S. who will practice how to Drop, Cover, and Hold On at 10:18 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18 during the Great Southeast Shakeout earthquake drill.
You can join them by registering for the drill. Participating is a great way for your family or organization to be prepared to survive and recover quickly from big earthquakes — wherever you live, work or travel.
Register for the Oct. 18 Southeast Shakeout earthquake drill online at www.shakeout.org/southeast.
Posted at 10:45 a.m.
At 10:20 a.m. next Thursday, Oct. 20, the Great Southeast ShakeOut earthquake drill will be held. The annual drill is the time for us to practice our drop, cover and hold on skills in case we were to encounter an actual earthquake.
Over 1.2 million Virginia residents registered to participate last year. And Fairfax County has always led the way in registered participants — so let’s do so again this year. Register now to participate in this year’s drill.
Drop, Cover and Hold On
Drop, cover and hold on is the appropriate action to reduce injury and death during earthquakes. The ShakeOut drill is our opportunity to practice how to protect ourselves during earthquakes and learn what to do — and what not to do.
- Drop where you are, onto your hands and knees. This position protects you from being knocked down and also allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if nearby.
- Cover your head and neck with one arm and hand.
- If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter.
- If no shelter is nearby, crawl next to an interior wall (away from windows).
- Stay on your knees; bend over to protect vital organs
- Hold on until shaking stops.
Virginia Earthquake History
Virginia and much of the East Coast experienced a widely-felt earthquake at 1:51 p.m. eastern daylight time on Tuesday, August 23, 2011. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter of the quake was located near Cuckoo, in Louisa County. With a magnitude of 5.8, this is the largest Virginia earthquake recorded by seismometers. More than 80 aftershocks have been reported by the USGS and the area is currently being monitored by geophysicists from several leading science institutions.
The U.S. Geological Survey is now reporting that this is the most widely-felt earthquake in U.S. history.
If you’re not already registered for Fairfax Alerts, which sends emergency alert messages via text, email and phone, sign up today. You’ll not only get severe weather alerts, but also a reminder message about next week’s earthquake drill. Sign up at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts.
Posted at 8:15 a.m.
In a couple of hours, don’t be surprised if you see folks around you start dropping to the floor, crawling under sturdy desks or tables and covering their heads. It’s all part of the annual Great Southeast ShakeOut earthquake drill that starts at 10:15 a.m.
Practicing these simple steps — drop, cover and hold on — is just one of the ways you can prepare for tremors.
- DROP to the ground (before the shaking drops you).
- Take COVER under a sturdy desk or table if possible, protecting your head and neck.
- HOLD ON to the desk or table until the shaking stops.
Not to Late to Participate
Over 2 million people have registered to participate in this morning’s drill — including over 1.1 million in Virginia alone! But if you haven’t signed up, it’s not too late to do so. Just go to www.shakeout.org/southeast/register to register. And don’t worry if you’ve already got plans for this morning. You can conduct your own earthquake drill any time over the next two weeks to have your participation counted. So register now and drop, cover and hold on at 10:15 a.m.
Earthquakes in Virginia
Virginia experiences earthquakes each year, but only a few are felt. Since 1977, more than 195 quakes have been detected as originating beneath Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. Of these, at least 29 were large enough to be felt at the earth’s surface. This averages out to about six earthquakes per year, of which one is felt.
The Aug. 23, 2011 earthquake centered near Mineral, Va., was felt by one-third of the U.S. population from Georgia to Maine and it caused over $200 million in damage. Earthquakes like that one can cause sudden and intense back and forth motions of several feet per second. They can cause the floor or the ground to jerk sideways out from under you, while every unsecured object around you could topple, fall, or become airborne, potentially causing serious injury.
Now is a good time to check your home for unsecured objects that could move, break or fall as an earthquake shakes your home. Pay attention to tall, heavy or expensive objects like bookcases, home electronics, appliances and items hanging from walls, especially over beds, tables, desks or chairs. FEMA and our emergency management office recommends that you secure those items with flexible fasteners, such as nylon straps, or relocate them.
Posted at 11 a.m.
For the fourth year, Virginia will participate in the Great Southeast ShakeOut, a multi-state simultaneous earthquake drill scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 15, at 10:15 a.m.
As of this morning, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management reports that more than 797,000 Virginians have signed up for the earthquake drill. Have you?
Learn more about what to do if there is an earthquake and then practice these easy-to-remember steps during the ShakeOut:
- Hold on!
There are many ways for you, businesses, schools, faith-based organizations, community groups and others to participate in the Southeast ShakeOut and to get prepared for earthquakes. Visit www.shakeout.org/southeast to learn more and register to participate. And if Oct. 15 isn’t a convenient time for your organization to hold an earthquake drill, you can still participate in the ShakeOut — you can hold a drill any time between then and Dec. 31 and still be counted as long as you register your participation.
Posted at 1:30 p.m.
It’s all over social media, and it did over $54 million at the box office in its opening weekend. What are we talking about? The movie “San Andreas,” which chronicles the potential destruction from a magnitude 9 earthquake and subsequent, even larger, aftershocks.
The great thing about the movie — and all of the Hollywood special effects — is that after the movie is over and the popcorn is eaten, you get to go home safe and sound. However, the reality is that an earthquake can very well be a devastating natural disaster.
Reality vs. Hollywood
Prior to the movies’ release, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake last month, followed by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake, rocked the country of Nepal, with casualties in the thousands and tens of thousands left homeless; over 8,000 people have been killed from these combined earthquakes.
You also may remember the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Mineral, Va., in August 2011. It caused significant structural damage from central Virginia to southern Maryland and the Washington D.C. area, to include Fairfax County. The quake, with hundreds of aftershocks, damaged more than 1,400 homes and businesses in Virginia.
Now’s a great time — while the topic is fresh on our minds — to remind ourselves of the proper steps to take during an earthquake: “Drop, Cover and Hold On!”
There are simple actions we all should do to get prepared to survive and recover. Visit www.earthquakecountry.org/sevensteps to learn more.
- Preparedness and San Andreas Movie fact/fiction: www.earthquakecountry.org
- Earthquakes, Megaquakes and the Movies: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/topics/megaquakes.php
- Earthquake Facts and Earthquake Fantasy: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/topics/megaqk_facts_fantasy.php