Catawba County News

Earthquake Preparedness

Earthquake Preparedness

Published: October 05, 2023

Do you know what to do in case of an Earthquake?

Most people in the U.S. think about California when they hear the word earthquake and with good reason. In the last 12 months, there have been 15 earthquakes in the continental U.S. with a magnitude rating of 4.5 (or greater) and 9 of those events were in California.

What about us in Catawba County? Do we really need to be prepared for earthquakes?  YES!!!

In the past 20 years, Catawba County has had 14 earthquakes, all below 2.5 in magnitude.  The majority of those earthquakes have had a center point (epicenter) that is within a mile of US-321, near Brookford, Mt. View and to the west of Newton. The strongest earthquake in Western North Carolina in recent years was a 5.1 magnitude quake near Sparta on August 9, 2020. Many residents in Catawba County reported feeling that event, but no damage in our area occurred.

What do those magnitude numbers really mean?

 An earthquake’s magnitude is represented on a scale between 0 to 10 based on seismic activity called the Richter Scale. It measures the size or power of the earthquake at its source. As each number on the scale increases, the power of the earthquake it represents increases 10 times, so a 3.0 earthquake is 10x more powerful than a 2.0 one. Even when you know the magnitude, how much damage an earthquake can cause at any given point will depend on many variables, such as the distance from the epicenter, soil type, building construction, etc. To help bridge the gap between the magnitude number and intensity (amount of actual shaking), we use another scale called the Modified Mercalli (MMI) Scale.  As a general rule of thumb, it’s unlikely for damage to occur at magnitudes less than 4 or even 5, but if you want to know more about earthquake magnitude, energy release and shaking intensity, click HERE.

What does all this mean to you?

 It means, that while the probability of a damaging earthquake occurring in our area is low, there is still the possibility and you need to know what to do.  If you feel the ground shaking, do the following:

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

  • Under shelter: hold on to your shelter with one hand; be ready to move with it if it shifts
  • No shelter: hold on to your head and neck with both arms and hands.

Practice this with your family and co-workers by participating in the International “Shake Out Day”, on October 19th at 10:19 AM.

Millions of people worldwide will participate in earthquake drills at work, school or at home. To be counted in the largest earthquake drill, you should register your company, group, team, crew or family HERE!  

Whether you register or not, practice what to do in case of an earthquake.

For more information on earthquake preparedness, check out the sites and links below.

Earthquake Safety - video (English)

Mobility or Functional Needs Earthquake Safety - video (English)

ShakeOut Transmisión del Simulacro en Español - Efectos de Sonido

ShakeOut Documents in many languages