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4 tips for surviving Oklahoma earthquakes

Earthquakes, am I right?

Oklahomans are used to Mother Nature’s ebb and flow, but these stronger-than-normal earthquakes are kind of new to us. And if you live in the Jones, Perry and Guthrie areas, then you’re really feeling them, and almost on a daily basis.

I was raised in southern California and would’ve slept through the infamous Northridge quake of 1994 if it wasn’t for my dad waking everyone up as he ran down the hallway screaming “earthquake! earthquake!” After that quake my parents and I learned how to prep for the “big one.” Even though we never had to use what we prepared, prepping for an earthquake is easy, painless and worth the little bit of your time that it takes.


4. Consider earthquake insurance

Earthquake insurance is available in Oklahoma, though it might be expensive to acquire depending on your home insurance company.

My wife and I use Travelers and they offer earthquake insurance direct. We added it last year at about $1.80 a month and have no change in deductible or coverage. It’s a small price to pay for a peace of mind, even if we never use it. State Farm and Farmers also offer earthquake insurance in Oklahoma, according to state Insurance Commissioner John Doak.

A coworker has insurance through the Farm Bureau and, last we spoke, they don’t offer earthquake insurance direct to the customer, so they have to go through a secondary company which causes the monthly premium to be much more than the $1.80 my wife and I spend. And by much more we’re talking several hundred dollars more.

So, shop around if this is something you’re serious about. It takes a couple of minutes to call up your insurer and see what’s what.


3. Think about earthquake proofing your house

You know how when you have a baby, you do everything you can to baby-proof the house? You modify the cabinets, you remove heavy items from atop shelves and you’re mindful of how you arrange furniture.

Take that same idea and apply it to earthquake survival. Modifying cabinets with new hinges is easy and inexpensive. Anchoring down furniture like bookshelves and televisions is also easy and inexpensive. Moving valuable vases and knick-knacks from above the fireplace takes no time at all.

These little things can help protect your belongings during an earthquake, especially during some of the stronger ones we’ve been feeling recently.


2. Keep supplies at the ready

If you’re an Oklahoman then chances are you’ve been in a storm shelter at least a few times during your lifetime, and chances are those shelters had supplies in them “just in case.”

It’s equally easy to get together supplies for earthquakes, just in case the big one ever hits.

What we did in California was buy a rolling trash can, like those used for garden clippings, and fill it up with necessities: Canned food, bottled water, first aid supplies, extra clothes, flashlights and batteries, medications, copies of important documents, pet supplies, blankets and even a portable camping stove complete with fuel. Then, put it in an accessible location like an outdoor shed. Garages are fine, too, but you’re better off keeping it away from a large building that can cave in on it.

Chances are you will never have to use these things, but in the event you need to shut the gas and/or water off to your house, having some of these things available will make life a little easier.


1. Relax

Earthquakes can be pretty scary especially if you’re not used to them, but they’re probably the least terrifying natural disaster we’ve got. But Oklahoma earthquakes are more common than you might expect, and we partly have the Meers Fault to thank for that.

Located in southwest Oklahoma, the Meers Fault is actually visible from above, as you can see the physical deformation of the land thanks to the numerous earthquakes over the years. And that sucker has a history of being active some 1,300 years ago.

Yet Oklahoma is still standing.

You stand a better chance of death by bee sting than death by earthquake. So, relax already (and watch out for those bees).

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Richard Hall

Richard Hall is an award-winning newsroom developer, editor and blogger for NewsOK. He was born in Austin, Texas, spent his childhood in southern California and has lived in Norman since 1999. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2008. Read more ›