JANUARY 19, 2016…The record number of earthquakes in Oklahoma this year is alarming residents, schools and businesses across the state as more quakes occur daily and their frequency shows no sign of stopping.
So far this year more than 70 quakes have rattled the state including one two weeks ago in rural Fairview whose magnitude measured 4.8 at the epicenter 100 miles from Oklahoma City.
The situation is generating comments such as “People are scared about what can happen…” “If you don’t feel safe in your home, what do you do…?” “What happens if a high-rise apartment house or a student dormitory collapses?”
Surviving an earthquake requires preparation, planning and practice, say the experts at Quake Kare, a leading provider of emergency survival kits. Learning what actions to take in advance can help people stay safe, and minimize the risk of injuries (http://www.quakekare.com).
People are alarmed
No wonder people are alarmed: In 2014 Oklahoma experienced more than 5,415 earthquakes, including 585 quakes of magnitude-3 or more, according to the Oklahoma Geologic Survey. By comparison, in 2013 the state had only 109 magnitude-3 quakes.
Oklahoma seismologists warn that substantial numbers of small quakes indicate that larger, more devastating earthquakes could erupt unexpectedly in the state where oil and gas production is the biggest industry.
Hundreds of people jammed Oklahoma’s statehouse chamber on January 15 to voice their concerns and press legislators into action. "I'm afraid my house is going to fall down while you're considering what to do," said Melinda Olbert, an Edmond resident whose house was rattled by a 4.3 magnitude quake in December. Many complained about the legislature’s lack of action since earthquake frequency began to escalate a few years ago.
The New Yorker magazine reported that until 2008, Oklahoma experienced an average of only one to two earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater each year. In 2009, there were 20. The next year, there were 42. In 2014, Oklahoma’s 585 quakes were nearly triple the rate in California.
Oklahoma residents believe the earthquake problem will get even worse, and are worried about safety in their homes and infrastructure such as roads, bridges and public buildings.
"It's scary when they happen in the middle of the night," Oklahoma City resident Mike Kahn told National Geographic magazine. "It's a weird feeling to feel your house shaking. Your heart is racing, you are running down the hall to check on your kids, and then you run back and check on your wife. They make your heart skip."
Brittney Bettonville understands such fears and knows what devastating earthquakes can do when they impact populated areas. She works with Quake Kare, which provides emergency survival kits for earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and other disasters. (http://www.quakekare.com).
“Earthquakes are terrifying — Most people don’t know how to react when the ground begins to shake,” she says. “You wonder if your house will crumble and whether your family can survive,” she says.
“Taking proper actions, such as ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On’ can save lives and reduce risk of death or injury,” she advises. “If you are inside during an earthquake, drop to the floor. Take cover under a sturdy desk or table and hold on to it firmly.”
“Stay away from windows, bookcases, cabinets, mirrors and heavy objects. Beware of falling plaster and ceiling tiles. Stay undercover until the shaking stops.”
“If you're outdoors, move away from trees, signs, buildings, electrical wires and poles, as well as buildings, streetlights and utility wires.”
“If you're driving, pull over and stop. Avoid overpasses, power lines or any hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking stops. Proceed cautiously once the earthquake is over. Avoid roads or bridges that may have been damaged. Remember that one or more damaging aftershocks can occur.”
Last year, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported that many Oklahoma earthquakes over seven years were triggered by drilling for oil and gas. Dumping toxic wastewater from the drilling process deep into the earth destabilizes faults in the bedrock, according to the report.
Many other scientists and researchers have reached the same conclusion. As a result Oklahoma legislators are discussing the issue with business leaders, consumers, civic authorities and energy industry officials. But the legislature itself won’t re-convene until February.
Quake Kare’s Ultimate Deluxe Four Person 72-Hour Survival Kit is designed to prepare a family of four at home for any disaster. These kits contain emergency supplies including food, water, lighting, first-aid supplies, portable toilet/sanitation supplies, tent shelter, a solar hand-crank powered flashlight, and a weather band radio with a USB device charger that never needs batteries designed to charge smart phones and other USB devices.
In addition, Quake Kare’s ER™ Earthquake Kit contains earthquake supplies to "quake-proof" homes and protect against damage or injury that may occur during an earthquake.
Bettonville advises consumers to stockpile emergency supplies and reduce potential hazards inside their homes, and practice what to do when disaster strikes. “Earthquakes can occur in every U.S. state, not just Oklahoma – and they do,” she says.