The number of earthquakes known to have occurred within Mississippi’s boundaries is small, but the state has been affected by numerous shocks in neighboring states. The New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) Earthquake of 1811 and 1812 was felt in Mississippi as far south as the Gulf Coast and caused the banks of the Mississippi River to cave in as far south as Vicksburg.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency continues to focus on programs essential to earthquake hazard reduction. The program is broad in scope and includes public awareness and education, training, preparedness, response and recovery planning and mitigation initiatives. Federal, state and local partnerships play important roles in accomplishing objectives of the program.
One of the main goals of MEMA’s Earthquake Program is to build the best possible working relationship with the emergency management directors of the 18 counties that may be affected by a NMSZ event.
Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and stay indoors until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.
The following are some tips for what to do during an earthquake:
- DROP to the ground; take COVER under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
- Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
- Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
- Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported doorway.
- Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
- Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
- DO NOT use the elevators.
- Stay outdoors.
- Move away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires.
- Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths result from collapsing walls, flying glass and falling objects.
If in a Vehicle:
- Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay inside the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires.
- Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.
If trapped under debris:
- Do not light a match or lighter.
- Do not move around or kick up dust.
- Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
- Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.