News & Announcements

April 20, 2020

Are Your Ready For An Earthquake in Virginia?

Living in Virginia has its challenges when it comes to weather events. Hurricanes and tornadoes, flash-flooding, and tropical storms all impact our safety and homes. And, since 2011, earthquakes have moved into our preparedness awareness.

On August 23rd, 2011, Central Virginia experienced its largest seismic event causing almost $90 million in local damages. Homes, schools, and other buildings as far away as Baltimore, Maryland suffered structural damage from the 5.8 earthquake. In response, FEMA issued a major disaster declaration to offer assistance to the residents and businesses that suffered damages.

Virginia has many faults, nearly all inactive. Most earthquakes here are not associated with a known fault, but occur within three distinct seismic zones: the Eastern Tennessee Seismic Zone (ETSZ) includes Lee County in far southwestern Virginia; the Giles County Seismic Zone (GCSZ) extends through the New River Valley, and the Central Virginia Seismic Zone (CVSZ) includes the cities of Richmond and Charlottesville.

In fact, the last recorded seismic activity in Virginia was just three months ago: a 2.7 magnitude shake in Louisa on Monday, February 3rd at 10:04 AM.

Preparing for an Earthquake

As with a weather-related event, there are some basic steps you should take when preparing for an earthquake:Drop, Cover, Hold On Instruction Chart

  • Create a family plan with escape routes, an emergency meeting place, and a contact method for communicating with relatives.
  • Make sure all teenage and adult household members know where gas, electric, and water main shutoffs are located and how they operate.
  • Practice Drop, Cover, Hold.



Gather-up Emergency Supplies

  • Three day supply of water
  • Non-perishable foods
  • Pet supplies
  • Emergency radio/batteries
  • Solar charger for electronic devices with charging cables
  • Crescent wrench for turning off water and gas valves
  • Waterproof matches
  • First aid kit
  • Jackets, blankets, rain gear for all family members
  • Hand sanitizer, towelettes, paper products.
  • Zip lock bags, assorted sizes
  • Swiss Army Knife/Scissors
  • 3 Day supply of prescriptions/vitamins/supplements Safety Measures you can put in place now

Safety Measures You Can Take Now

  • Fit gas appliances with flexible connections and shut-off devices. Or, install an automatic shut-off on your gas main.
  • Install a shut-off device like Flo by Moen on your water main.
  • Secure your water heater to the wall.
  • Anchor bookcases and tall filing cabinets to the wall.
  • Anchor your television to the wall or surface.
  • Install ledge barriers on shelves and latches on cabinet doors and drawers. This can be as easy as using a tension rod across an opening.
  • Place heavy items on lower shelves. Use museum putty to breakable items to shelves.
  • Apply safety film to windows and glass doors.
  • Use closed hooks and adhesive pads to hang pictures, art or mirrors on the wall.
  • Lock the rollers on any large appliances and pieces of furniture.
  • Affix anchor bolts or steel plates that secure the house to the foundation.
  • Braces for chimneys, masonry/concrete walls, foundations.
  • Fix any cracks in your walls and roof.
  • Brace the cripple wall (the wall between the foundation and the first floor) as it is the weakest part of your home.
  • Consider using pavers for walkways and driveways as concrete is guaranteed to crack and pavers offer more flexibility.
  • Purchase earthquake insurance. This is typically not included in standard coverage.

Prepare Your Personal Safety

  • Keep closed-toe shoes with rubber soles under your bed.
  • Give all family members a whistle to keep by their bedsides. This can be used to assist you and emergency responders in locating them.
  • Keep emergency cash in a protected, accessible place.
  • Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher and fire blankets available.Bug Out Bag Knapsack
  • Have a “Bug Out” kit ready with copies of important documents like IDs and insurance papers, extra eyeglasses, prescription information, written contact information for family, doctors, and pharmacies. Put this kit in your car as you may not be at home when disaster strikes.



Call your Mutual Assurance representative today to discuss our Earthquake Coverage option.