What to Know During an Earthquake

Florida is not typically a hotbed of seismic activity. Only a handful of small earthquakes have occurred in Florida since 1879. Most  have been only slight tremors that resulted in minor destruction and injury. Outside of Florida, though, earthquakes are a frequent and occasionally deadly occurrence. On August 24th, an earthquake struck a village in central Italy, killing at least 120 people. In 2011, a large earthquake in Japan triggered a tsunami and nuclear crisis. The city of Port-au-Prince in Haiti is still recovering from a powerful earthquake that occurred there in 2010. In the United States, all 50 states can experience earthquakes, but Pacific coast states like California and Washington tend to experience the most seismic activity, due to their proximity to the earth’s fault lines.

What Is An Earthquake?

Earthquakes occur when the crust along the earth’s plates begins to build up. This buildup creates fiction, preventing plates from moving. When this friction becomes too strong, the plates may suddenly slip, which ruptures the fault and creates an earthquake. An earthquake can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, and can range in their severity. Plenty of earthquakes are very small, but others can result in incredible property damage and loss of life. Additionally, they can trigger landslides, tsunamis, or flash floods. People in cities devastated by earthquakes also face issues beyond death and injuries, as the destruction of infrastructure might prevent them from returning to work.

Earthquake Safety

If you experience an earthquake, you should remain where you are until the shaking stops. Some people believe that standing in a doorway will provide extra safety, but in reality, this does not protect you from any debris or any other objects that may fall as a result of the earthquake. If you can, get underneath a table, desk, or behind a piece of furniture, and cover your head and neck. Stay away from any glass windows, wall fixtures, and anything else that could break or fall. If you are outside when an earthquake occurs, move away from buildings and streetlights. Drop to the ground, and cover your head and neck. When the earthquake is over, be wary of aftershocks.

In the past, lawsuits have resulted from earthquakes. After a recent earthquake in Oklahoma, two lawsuits were filed against a local drilling company, and claimed the company’s drilling activity was responsible. The lawsuits were eventually dropped. Since earthquakes in Florida are infrequent and minor, though, there are no documented personal injury lawsuits pertaining to earthquakes.

While earthquakes are rare in Florida, you should still be aware of proper safety procedures, especially when traveling to earthquake-prone areas. In the event that this natural disaster happens to you, you want to be fully prepared!  


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.



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