If your earthquake awareness is mostly that of California, you better think again… You may be surprised to discover that earthquakes happen even where YOU live.

Being prepared for an earthquake is something that many people (outside of obvious earthquake fault zones) don’t think about. You might have a look at the following maps, recently updated by the USGS (United States Geological Survey) which indicate new information on seismic hazards throughout the U.S.

New (2014-JUL) USGS maps extend the risk zones for earthquakes across much more of the country. The maps were updated from new seismic data collected over the past several years as well as improved computational modeling.

A number of regions have a higher potential for bigger earthquakes than previously thought. Among them is much of the eastern U.S.

There is also expanded earthquake risk around the New Madrid Seismic Zone in southwestern Missouri; the zone stretches into Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. A series of earthquakes up to magnitude 8.1 devastated that area in 1811 and 1812.

2014 Update of the United States National Seismic Hazard Maps

Central and Eastern U.S. including Mw2.5 and greater earthquakes occurring since 1700

Western United States with earthquakes Mw3.5 and greater since 1850

Being prepared for an earthquake isn’t too much different from ordinary preparedness – except for the unique hazards which come with earthquakes (e.g falling objects). One of the earthquake-specific preparedness things you can do is to either secure heavy or dangerous objects that are near your bed and/or remove any hanging objects that may be near or above the bed. You spend about a third of your life in bed – so odds are that an earthquake might happen while you’re sleeping.

If there is a strong earthquake where you live, and if you have natural gas to your home, be especially aware of any gas leak. It’s a very good idea to always keep a gas shut-off tool directly on your gas meter (next to the shut-off), or at least nearby and not buried somewhere in your tools.

Keep fire extinguishers in the home. Earthquakes have been known to start fires (from gas or other fuel leaks, etc..).

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