When it comes to preparing for disasters, natural disasters rank at the top of the list of things to prepare for; but one natural disaster has now shifted from the natural category into the list of man-made disasters that could wreak havoc throughout the United States.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), millions of Americans, living in areas of the United States that were once thought to be low-risk earthquake zones, are now living in seismic zones that are more active than the high-hazard areas of California.
A federal report from the USGS suggests that some 7 million people in the central and eastern U.S., including people in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arkansas, now live in a man-made earthquake zone. The USGS says that oil and gas drilling can trigger these quakes, and claim many of these areas have seen a dramatic increase in seismic activity over the past six years.
USGS Releases First-Ever Forecast Maps to Show both Human-induced and Natural Earthquakes.
The report comes in response to a dramatic increase in earthquake activity in Oklahoma, which is now one of the most seismic places on the planet.
Beginning in 2009, the frequency of earthquakes in Oklahoma started to skyrocket. From 1978 to 2008, Oklahoma experienced an average of two 3.0+ Mw earthquakes per year. Since then thousands of earthquakes have hit Oklahoma and surrounding areas in southern Kansas and North Texas.
From 2009 – 2013 the rate jumped to 99 M3+ earthquakes per year in Oklahoma. In 2014, there were 659 M3 and larger earthquakes. Last year in 2015 that number jumped to 907 magnitude 3+ earthquakes.
“By including human-induced events, our assessment of earthquake hazards has significantly increased in parts of the U.S.,” said Mark Petersen, Chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project. “This research also shows that much more of the nation faces a significant chance of having damaging earthquakes over the next year, whether natural or human-induced.”
Six States now High Hazard Man-Made Seismic Zones
Six states, listed from highest to lowest potential hazard, are at significant risk of damage from these man-made earthquakes: Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arkansas.
Damage to a home caused by a magnitude 5.6 earthquake in central Oklahoma on Nov. 6, 2011
If you live in one of these man-made earthquake zones, you need to take earthquake preparedness seriously. There are a number of safety precautions you can take to protect yourself and minimize damages. Here are some tips from my book, The Ultimate Situational Survival Guide: Self-Reliance Strategies for a Dangerous World:
- Put together an emergency kit/bug out bag that’s filled with the supplies you need to survive an extended disaster.
- Firmly secure large appliances, water heaters, heavy objects, mounted televisions, and anything that can fall and cause injury during a quake. Most home improvement stores sell earthquake straps, bolts, and other stabilizing equipment.
- Remove any large items that are near your bed such as mirrors, picture frames, and artwork.
- Install safety latches on cabinets to prevent them from opening during a quake.
- Have an evacuation plan in place that includes a way to contact everyone in your family should the quake hit when you’re separated.
- Practice your emergency evacuation plan on a regular basis. Everyone in your family should know exactly what to do when disaster strikes.
- Keep your cell phone nearby at all times and make sure it’s always fully charged.