Earthquake Safety, Even in Florida
While Floridians cleaned up debris from Hurricane Irma and islands in the Caribbean were getting battered by Hurricane Maria, a natural disaster of an entirely different kind struck in Mexico. A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck near Mexico City on Tuesday, killing at least 216 people. Horrifying videos show large building swaying and toppling as the ground shakes violently below them, and dozens of people, including 32 children, as still missing. Unfortunately, the death toll is only expected to arise as workers clear away the rubble. The world’s thoughts are with the people of Mexico as they deal with this natural tragedy.
Because Florida is not typically a hotbed of seismic activity, we tend to forget about earthquakes. But in other parts the world, earthquakes are a frequent and occasionally deadly occurrence. In 2016, 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 devastating earthquake 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.
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. 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, 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 for the earthquake, which resulted in injury, mental devastation, and a loss of wages. 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, 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.