earthquake-iStock_000007395134XSmallLast week’s news featured a number of strong earthquakes that occurred in various locations around the world. On Thursday, Western Mexico experienced two earthquakes of magnitude 6.9 and 6.2 with very shallow epicenters. People as far away as Tucson, Arizona reported feeling these quakes. Earlier that week, a magnitude 8.6 earthquake shook off the Indonesian island of Sumatra. This earthquake triggered a tsunami watch for the entire Indian Ocean, with warnings in some areas, which were later lifted. Many residents left their homes for higher ground as a precaution.

Why were there so many earthquakes last week?

Every year the National Earthquake Information Center records about 20,000 quakes, which equates to about 55 a day! This number is relatively static from year to year, although improved technology and communications means that some earthquakes that would previously have gone unrecorded are now being logged, bringing the overall number up slightly. In 2012 we have so far actually seen a lower than average number of quakes. So, despite appearances, you shouldn’t worry that last week’s seismic activity is anything too unusual.

How are earthquakes measured?

Earthquakes are measured using the Richter Scale, which measures the seismic energy released by the quake. However, the overall effect of an earthquake not only depends on the magnitude, but also the location of the epicenter, the ground and building structure conditions, and many other factors. High magnitude earthquakes may cause little or no damage considering all other factors. You just never know the scale of an earthquake until it unfortunately happens. To be on the safe side, to help protect your family home, at least having protection like home contents insurance in place will at least ensure your belongings are covered. This just doesn’t cover your belongings, but you and your family too. This may be worth researching, as you’d rather know now before an earthquake than not know at all.

Not all earthquakes can be felt by humans at the surface; many of them are only detected by scientific measurements. The United States Geological Service (USGS) has a real-time earthquake map showing all the recorded earthquakes around the world.

Who is at risk?

Over 45 states in the U.S. are at risk for earthquakes. According to FEMA, your risk can be assessed by considering your hazard, exposure, and vulnerability. To view the level of hazards in your area, examine this earthquake hazards map. Exposure relates to the number and value buildings, infrastructure, and how urbanized and populated the area is. These exposure levels tend to be more vulnerable in areas with lower socioeconomic status. Vulnerability is of the buildings and property abiding to building codes and having earthquake-resistant construction. It is important, especially if you are considered at a high risk, to remember to identify safe places at home where you could shelter during a quake, make sure shelves and furniture are securely fastened, store breakable items in lower cabinets with doors and latches, ensure electrical wiring and gas connections are in good repair, and secure your water heaters to the wall and floor. With this being said, there are ways where residents can prevent further damage from happening. By looking into something like earthquake inland empire, you’re able to help keep you and your family safe in an event like this. At times, you can predict an earthquake, which is why it is important to take the necessary precautions before it hits.

What should I do if I’m caught in an earthquake?

If you are caught in an earthquake and you are indoors, the best plan of action is to drop, cover and hold on. Stay inside until the shaking stops. If you are outdoors, stay there and move away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires, and stay in the open until the shaking has stopped. If you are in a car, stop as quickly as you can and stay in the car. Additionally, attempt to avoid stopping close to buildings, trees, wires and overpasses.