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'Drop, Cover, And Hold On': State Encourages Vermonters To Learn Earthquake Safety Protocol

Drop, Cover, and Hold On illustration via ShakeOut
ShakeOut is an annual earthquake preparation event organized by FEMA and other partners, and "Drop, Cover, And Hold On" is the protocol advised during an earthquake.

A week after a minor earthquake hit the Upper Valley, the Agency of Natural Resources is reminding Vermonters what to do the next time the earth shakes.A 2.3 magnitude earthquake was detected near White River Junction on Dec. 20.

Vermont state geologist Marjorie Gale says that while earthquakes are rare in Vermont, they do happen, and Gale says it's important for people to understand the proper procedures to follow when the earth does shake.

"That's the type of information I think people should know," says Gale. "And they should know how to behave when, and if, an event strikes, because they do and they will again, and we can have larger magnitude quakes."

The Agency of Natural Resources updated its earthquake information webpage following the White River Junction quake.

The state wants everyone in the state to be familiar with the Department of Homeland Security procedure to "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" during an earthquake. The federal agency says when an earthquake hits, people should drop to the ground, cover their head and neck, and hold on to something sturdy until the shaking stops.

Gale says people should not stand in a doorway during an earthquake.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency partners with other organizations on an annual earthquake preparation event called ShakeOut, but Vermont doesn't take part in the one-day planning activity.

"We haven't had an event that's caused done damage, or injured people, so we're just not aware of it," Gale says. "But it's probably worth everyone in Vermont practicing now and then."

Gale says there have been 73 earthquakes centered in Vermont, and the highest recorded quake was a 4.1 magnitude on April 10, 1962 around Middlebury.
Gale says in earthquake zones, where quakes are centered around fault lines, seismologists can more easily predict where they will hit.

But in New England, the earthquakes are more sporadic, and Gale says that makes it harder to predict where they will hit.

"We have no faults visible on the surface and we have none we've been able to define at depth based on existing data," Gale says. "And so we don't really have the ability to predict out here."

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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