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Michigan doesn't normally have earthquakes. However, we can suffer effects from earthquakes in neighboring states that have a higher likelihood of them. This information is useful for when you may be visiting other states where the earthquake risk is much higher than in Michigan.

Some parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee are on a fault line called New Madrid. As recently as 1991, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.0 on the Richter scale occurred in Missouri. Earthquakes as high as 7.7 on the Richter scale have occurred in the same region.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides a map that shows where earthquakes will most likely occur in the US.

An earthquake can appear in the following ways:

  • During a major earthquake, you may hear a roaring or rumbling sound that gradually grows louder. You may feel a rolling sensation that starts out gently and, within a second or two grows violent.
  • You may first be jarred by a violent jolt. A second or two later, you may feel shaking and find it difficult to stand up or move from one room to another.

Most of the damage that occurs from earthquakes is from the shaking of the ground. Devastating effects of the shaking can be seen afterward as damaged structures, fires, land damage, and hazardous material release.

How to stay healthy

The main way to stay healthy during an earthquake is to protect yourself from injury from falling debris. The best ways to do this are DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON.

  • DROP down onto your hands and knees before the earthquake would knock you down. This position protects you from falling but still allows you to move if necessary.
  • COVER your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under the shelter of a sturdy table or desk. If there is no shelter nearby, get down near an interior wall or next to low-lying furniture that won't fall on you, and cover your head and neck with your arms and hands. Try to stay clear of windows or glass that could shatter or objects that could fall on you.
  • HOLD ON to your shelter (or to your head and neck) until the shaking stops. Be prepared to move with your shelter if the shaking shifts it around.

How to prepare

Preparing for an earthquake is similar to preparing for other types of disasters. Here are some important tips that can help you prepare in the event one may occur.

  • Create an evacuation plan for you and your family. Your house or the place you are staying may become damaged during an earthquake and you need to be able to leave to a safer place. Practice this plan often so that when an earthquake occurs, you will be ready. Part of your plan should include:
  • A safe location to keep copies of important documents. These may include, birth certificates, lists of health issues and medications, and social security information.
  • Priorities for evacuation. Prioritize items that you can take with you when you leave your home. Have a list of things that are top priority that must be taken no matter what and others that may also be taken if time and conditions permit.

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