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East Coast Earthquake - do you go outside or stay in?

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posted on Feb, 6 2012 @ 10:23 PM
I grew up in California with geologists for parents - I can do "prepared" in my sleep. But, now that I'm on the east coast I find myself way more wigged out. Our place shook pretty hard in last year's Virginia quake (only a 5.?), I've been feeling little jolts here and there (enough to knock over the wood piles last week), and we're near enough to the New Madrid that I want to be ready just in case.

SO...I had a little chat with my dad the earthquake specialist and got this crash course for earthquakes in areas that are not as prepared as, say, new construction in California. Passing on the info for those who want to know:

It can be a tough call in the East.

* If you are in a one story wood frame house. Stay inside. The house may come off its foundation or the chimney may fall in, but occupants should come through OK. You might get in a corner or under a desk.

* Much the same for two story wood frame wood houses.

* If you are in an unreenforced brick building (In the east they are pretty much all unreenforced): Hmm Hard to give advice. Do you stay inside & risk the building falling in on you? Or do you rush outside and risk bricks coming loose and falling on you? Then so many old brick buildings have overhangs and cornices that are often poorly attached. Whatever held these architectural adornments when the building was built in the early 20th century is likely to have rotted away. I think I'd stay inside. In narrow streets like avenues of Manhattan, you could be crushed not by debris from your building but by debris from building next door or even across the street. The good news is that magnitudes are likely to be less than M5. Enough to knock bricks brick and cornices off but not cause total collapse. I think I'd stay inside under a desk or in a doorway. Not as safe as in California where more frequent quakes have knocked down most of the unreenforced brick buildings.

* Buildings that appear to be not what they are. There are lots of building in the east, most seem to be fairly new, where it looks like they are brick, but, no, they just have an exterior veneer of brick or stone. Our Virginia condo is built this way as is the hotel across the street. I think I'd stay inside. Underneath our condo building is wood frame while the hotel is reenforced concrete, albeit with lots of design details that are forbidden in "earthquake country". I doubt that the brick veneers are attached strongly enough to resist at least a few shaking loose.

* Sky scrapers: If you can, get away from the large curtain wall windows that so many skyscrapers have. The danger is large flying glass shards and the extreme whipsawing on the upper floors may toss you out of the windows. Don't take an elevator. The shaking may twist the rails and jam the car in the shaft. Or the power may go out trapping you. Quite likely the stairwells are structurally the soundest part of a sky scraper, but likely to be filled with pushing panicked people. Don't go outside even if you are near a ground floor door. Glass from the curtain wall windows is extremely dangerous. It falls like guillotine blades and on hitting the ground explodes into bursts of glass shrapnel.

Hope this helps, love Dad

[btw, love that he goes from guillotine death to love dad. Scientists rule :-]

posted on Feb, 6 2012 @ 10:32 PM
Im originally a New Yorker but its just pathetic people prefer to live cramped up on like a 99th floor "luxury" Manhattan condo... what kind of QOL is that? and how long will those things last? Most of those buildings are less than one lifetime old and quite a few have come already without any quakes, 10 yrs ago it was some 3 buildings that came down from 2 planes, it's just a matter of what's next and why.

posted on Feb, 6 2012 @ 10:42 PM
I live in a small house on 1' stilts at one end and 4' at the other, it started as a small cabin with 2 additions now. The washing machine rattles the whole place so in an earthquake we will be meeting outside by the woodshed and deciding if we need to drive to the highest point on the island.

posted on Feb, 6 2012 @ 10:44 PM
The following is my opinion as a member participating in this discussion.

Not to argue the point, but a couple things that I have heard from search and rescue guys is that stairways tend to explode into shrapnel, and doorways are not a good place to shelter. If the wall goes down, and you're in the doorway, you'll be scissored in half.

As an ATS Staff Member, I will not moderate in threads such as this where I have participated as a member.

posted on Feb, 6 2012 @ 10:53 PM
I'm in the south, and with all the 100ft+ Pines around.. I'd like to stay inside.. but if it falls on a house it could be even more of a disaster, not to mention the houses here aren't built for EQs, I learned that when I moved here (I'm from California). To be completely honest, I'd go outside. It's more open and if you see faults breaking some, quickly analyze the stability and follow it.. That's just me. You know they say, "You can run but you can't hide." I wouldn't want to be a sitting duck.

posted on Feb, 6 2012 @ 11:24 PM
I live in a frame/brick house built in the 1930's. ack! It also has a basement. I live in Missouri, can't get any closer to New Madrid. I will head for the basement, for one reason, to turn off the propane to my house. Also there is a root cellar. I will try to go there. If I cannot stand up I will crawl far as I can out I guess. It is truly hard to comprehend how violent it may be. I spent some time in Alaska when young, earthquakes were common, dishes crashing or skidding across the table, nothing big.

posted on Feb, 6 2012 @ 11:29 PM
reply to post by Iamschist
The following is my opinion as a member participating in this discussion.

So you're saying you're going to go into the smallest, most claustrophobic area of your house, where there is the most amount of weight to fall on you...

May I suggest moving your gas shut-off valve outside the house.

As an ATS Staff Member, I will not moderate in threads such as this where I have participated as a member.

posted on Feb, 6 2012 @ 11:44 PM
reply to post by defcon5

o you're saying you're going to go into the smallest, most claustrophobic area of your house

it does sound like that huh? It is under the back porch which is small, so main house is not directly over, could still fall on me though. There is a valve on the tank, but don't think I would have the courage to go there. If the New Madrid really went off as it did with the mega quake of 1812, I would expect to die.

posted on Feb, 7 2012 @ 12:13 AM
what he /she didnt say. Every one of you should go to the planning department of your city on county Copy the set of house prints take copy of prints to structural engineer and ask him what kind of structure you live in and his opinion hint hint,,,Geologists are not structural engineers (would you take your sick car to a Dentist; TV commercial comes to mind) ORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

if you are having trouble standing while in an earthquake feel free to do what Californians do,,,get your butts outside

edit on 7-2-2012 by rebellender because: so funny I forgot to laugh, let me fix that

edit on 7-2-2012 by rebellender because: had to fix something for realz

posted on Feb, 7 2012 @ 12:19 AM
reply to post by Iamschist

Screw the house, just get the heck outside into a clear area if possible.
Its not like your going to save it by staying inside it or anything.

posted on Feb, 7 2012 @ 12:29 AM
reply to post by defcon5

I will listen and you are right
I have earthquake insurance. Hopefully will not come to that.

This is a good thread and needed information for all non-Californians

posted on Feb, 7 2012 @ 09:30 AM
Good thread.

I too, am from ground-rumblin' California, but live in Virginia currently. Since the August earthquake, we have "adjusted" our earthquake response.

First off, we were only 30 or so miles from the epicenter--just happened to have played golf that day, and were having an after round lunch in the clubhouse. When it happened, I kept looking for a mushroom cloud from the direction of Washington, DC, no joke.
It didn't occur to me for at least 10 seconds that it was an earthquake. At the same moment that the word "earthquake" left my mouth, I watched this clock fall off the wall and hit my son on the head.

I grabbed his arm and we ran outside.

(click to enlarge)

Our rule now is, in our wood framed home, get under a heavy table. If my son is at school, I don't care what his instructors say, get out of the building, out into the open, ASAP. His high school is 2-story, 40+ year old block wall construction with brick veneer. The veneer is cracked from the foundation to roof at every corner after the mag 5.7. Luckily, there isn't brick above the exits.

On the east coast, I agree that the type of structure you find yourself in will have to be taken into account.
And friends, I don't care where you live across this beautiful planet, you should have heavy furniture strapped to the walls--ie. bookcases, armoire, chifforobe, etc. They sell prebent angled straps at the home improvement stores for just a few bucks.

posted on Feb, 7 2012 @ 09:56 AM
9/10 times, get out. I was on the 9th floor of a 10 story building when the August quake hit in VA; The building was swaying pretty good. Got out and away from the shadow of the building ASAP.

It was really apalling to hear the news reporters that night reporting that people should have actually stayed inside. The only situation where I think that would have been appropriate would have been downtown where, regardless of where you go, you're always in the shadow of a building. I live in a 50 year old house, I would have been out of there ASAP. If I lived in a brand new house I woulda been out as well, as new houses are contructed pretty poorly.

Seems like the "Stay inside" advice is the same as "Safe Rooms" in local government installations; they just want to know where to go to find the bodies.

I'm not an expert, but to me the safest path would be to exit your structure and get as clear from any buildings, poles, power lines, etc, as possible. If you're in a city and that just isn't possible, only then would I say "Stay Inside". In that case I would stick to a stairwell or lobby of building.

posted on Feb, 7 2012 @ 10:15 AM
When I lived in Japan, I was always told to go under a desk or in a doorway during the earthquakes. But here .. on the East Coast ... I'd get outside as fast as possible. These old brick homes .... the chimneys ... I'd get away from the house as fast as possible.

posted on Feb, 7 2012 @ 10:24 AM
Where I live in Minnesota, we don't get EQs, but I have played the what if and determined, for an EQ, I would get OUT of a building, and for a tornado, I would stay in.

When I was in Alaska I always had a tsunami plan in my head, and always had the same thought, get out and go up. So for me, I would get out during an EQ if I could.

Tough call with places like NY city where you have very tall buildings and lots of glass.

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