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Do You Know What To Do in an Earthquake?

Today we bring you a special Five Things looking at what to do in an earthquake.

Patch reader Kristie Griswold was waiting in line at the in Avon Marketplace Tuesday when she heard another customer scream and felt the ground shake. The counter was swaying and the cashier froze, as did many other people in the store who were not quite sure how to respond to what was later revealed as residual tremors in Connecticut from a Virginia earthquake.

Avon resident Sandy Houde Lepage commented on our Avon Patch Facebook page post about the earthquake, "I was at home (Avon) eating lunch, at 1:50, my house started to shake; for about 30 seconds."

Griswold commented on our earthquake article, "UPDATE: Earthquake in Virginia Shakes Up Connecticut. Did You Feel It?" that she wondered if "we are really prepared for an earthquake emergency.... I think we have a certain amount of ignorance, that it isn't something to worry about in CT."

In Connecticut, earthquakes aren't exactly the most common occurrence, though the weather has been extreme this year. Where on earth, no pun intended, should you actually take cover if you're suddenly in the middle of an earthquake?

Places to go or avoid during an earthquake:


The following tips come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

  • Duck under a heavy desk, table or any other form of sturdy furniture, and hold onto it.
  • If you are in bed when an earthquake happens, stay there and cover your head with a pillow unless there are light fixtures or other items nearby that could follow on you. If there are, move to a safer location.
  • Stay away from areas where glass could shatter, so avoid windows, mirrors, pictures. Also avoid areas near heavy furniture and bookcases that could fall.
  • If you are outside in the open, avoid "buildings, streetlights, and utility wires," or areas where debris could fall.

Is a door frame a safe place for cover?

Griswold wrote in her comments on the Patch article, "The person behind me was from California and said that a doorway is where you are supposed to go, but she didn't think the automatic door counted as a doorway."

Is that true? There are mixed reviews. According to Department of Public Safety in California, where earthquakes are more common, "inner walls or door frames are the least likely to collapse and might also shield against falling objects. If other cover is not available, go to an inner corner or doorway, away from windows or glass panels."

According to FEMA, you should only do so if the doorway is sturdy and nearby because most injuries during earthquakes occur from when you try to move to another location inside or leave. Inside walls, on the other hand, are considered safe, while outside walls are not.

Mark Benthien, director of education and outreach at the Southern California Earthquake Center, however, said on in a video segment on videojug.com, "We no longer recommend that people get in a door frame during an earthquake. It really does not provide that much protection from falling objects, such as ceiling tiles, lights or other things. And also, it's quite likely you're not going to be able to stand during the earthquake to begin with. Also, there have been cases when people put their hands on the door frames and the door is closing, and they're getting their fingers pinched. People are coming into the door, closing the door."

You could stand during this earthquake felt in Avon and the region, but would it have helped to stand in a doorway? It depends on the person advising you.

More tips are available on FEMA's website.

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