North Carolina has its share of earthquakes, but large, damaging seismic events are infrequent in our state. In New Hanover, we see the occasional tremor, but feel tremors from areas outside of our state more often than not.
Being ready before an emergency makes it easier to not have to go out when conditions might be dangerous. If you can take care of minor injuries on your own, it lessens the burden on urgent care centers and hospitals as well.
- Practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On drills with family and coworkers.
- Participate in the annual Great Southeast Shakeout held every October
- Make an Emergency Plan
- Create a family emergency communications plan that includes a contact that is outside of the area or outside of the state.
- Plan where you will meet your family if you are separated in an emergency.
- Make a supply kit that has enough non-perishable food and water for several days. Include a flashlight or glow sticks, a fire extinguisher, and a whistle. Remember, you don't have to stock up all at once. Buy a few essentials at a time to build your kit up slowly.
- Protect your home. Secure heavy items like bookcases, refrigerators, water heaters, televisions, and objects that hang on walls. Store heavy items on low shelves.
- Consider getting an earthquake insurance policy. A standard homeowner's insurance policy doesn't cover earthquake damage. If you are a renter, consider renter's insurance...your landlord's insurance generally will not cover your personal property.
- Get involved - consider taking a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and/or a You Are the Help Until Help Arrives course. Both are free and offered through New Hanover County Emergency Management.
- Stay Informed - make sure you have ways to get emergency information from local officials.
James Fenimore Cooper once wrote about a
"...sound resembling the explosion of a heavy piece of artillery, that can be accounted for none of the known laws of nature. The report is deep, hollow, distant, and imposing. The lake seems to be speaking to the surrounding hills which send back the echoes of its voice in accurate reply."
While he was penning the story "The Lake Gun" about similar sounds from Lake Seneca in upstate New York in 1850, coastal North Carolinians have been hearing these mysterious booms for more than 150 years. Some times they are powerful enough to rattle windows, vibrate buildings, and feel like a small earthquake! But there is nothing (seemingly) geological about these odd noises...they are not earthquakes, they are not sonic booms from military aircraft exercises in the area, they are not building explosions. It has stumped scientists for years...but there are some pretty cool theories and stories that go with them! Perhaps they are atmospheric phenonema with space rocks...perhaps they are ghost ships from the days of Blackbeard or even the Civil War battles at Fort Fisher. We just don't know! But, if you hear (or feel) one, be sure to report it to the US Geological Survey .
Here are some news stories from our region on the phenomenon.
If an earthquake happens, protect yourself right away!
- If you are in a car, pull over and stop. Set your parking brake.
- If you are in bed, turn face down and cover your head.
- If you are outdoors, stay outside and away from buildings.
- If you are inside stay inside and do not run outside.
Drop (or Lock), Cover, and Hold On!
Drop (or Lock)
Wherever you are, drop down to your hands and knees and hold onto something sturdy. If you’re using a wheelchair or walker with a seat, make sure your wheels are locked and remain seated until the shaking stops.
Cover your head and neck with your arms. 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). Crawl only if you can reach better cover without going through an area with more debris. Stay on your knees or bent over to protect vital organs.
If you are under a table or desk, hold on with one hand and be ready to move with it if it moves. If seated and unable to drop to the floor, bend forward, cover your head with your arms and hold on to your neck with both hands.
Using a Cane?
Using a Walker?
Using a Wheelchair?
There can be serious hazards after an earthquake, such as damage to the building, leaking gas and water lines, or downed power lines.
- Expect aftershocks to follow the main shock of an earthquake. Be ready to Drop (or Lock), Cover, and Hold On if you feel an aftershock.
- If you are in a damaged building, go outside and quickly move away from the building. Do not enter damaged buildings.
- If you are trapped, send a text or bang on a pipe or wall. Cover your mouth with your shirt for protection and instead of shouting, use a whistle.
- If you are in an area that may experience tsunamis, go inland or to higher ground immediately after the shaking stops. Avoid contact with floodwaters as they can contain chemicals, sewage, and debris.
- Check yourself to see if you are hurt and help others if you have training. Learn how to be the help until help arrives.
Once you are safe, pay attention to local news reports for emergency information and instructions via battery-operated radio, TV, social media or from cell phone text alerts.
- Register on the American Red Cross “Safe and Well” website so people will know you are okay.
- Use text messages to communicate, which may be more reliable than phone calls.
- Be careful when cleaning up.
- Wear protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, work gloves and sturdy thick-soled shoes.
- Do not try to remove heavy debris by yourself.
- Wear a mask to keep debris and other materials out of your lungs.
- Use an appropriate mask if cleaning mold or other debris. People with asthma and other lung conditions and/or immune suppression should not enter buildings with indoor water leaks or mold growth that can be seen or smelled. Children should not take part in disaster cleanup work.
- When the Earth Shakes
- Earthquake Preparedness: How to Stay Safe
- Earthquake Safety Video Series (Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills)
- Pablo y Paola Terremoto
- Earthquake Informational Poster (PDF)
- How to Prepare for an Earthquake (PDF)
- How to Prepare Your Organization for an Earthquake (PDF)
- Earthquake Preparedness: What Every Childcare Provider Should Know (PDF)
- Earthquake Safety at Home (PDF)
- Resources for People With Disabilities (Earthquake Country Alliance)
Info on Earthquakes from Ready.gov in: