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How to deal with an earthquake

August 23, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com

Local and federal officials Tuesday offered some tips people can follow to help them deal with the magnitude 5.8 earthquake that rumbled through the region Tuesday afternoon.

Hagerstown Fire Chief W. Kyd Dieterich said residents can check for obvious problems around their homes, like water or gas leaks.

Any homeowner who detects a gas leaks is advised to call 911, Dieterich said.

Columbia Gas of Maryland was checking its system Tuesday afternoon to see if the quake caused any damage, company spokeswoman Rachel Ford said.

"Currently, the system is operating safely, and we believe it was not affected by the earthquake," Ford said.

Columbia Gas will continue to monitor the system for any problems, she said.

For anyone who believes their natural gas lines are damaged and leaking, Ford said natural gas gives off a sulphur-like smell.

Customers can also call Columbia Gas at 1-888-460-4332 to report a leak, Ford said.

Dieterich said chimneys are also susceptible to damage during an earthquake, but he didn't believe Tuesday's tremor was strong enough to cause any cracks in local homes.

 To protect yourself during an earthquake, the Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests:

  • Drop to the ground if you are indoors. Take cover by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture and hold on until the shaking stops. If there is not a table or a desk near you, cover you face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls.
  • If you are outdoors, stay there. Move away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires. If you are in a car, stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle.

Staff Writer Don Aines contributed to this story.

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