This afternoon, the east coast of the U.S. was rocked by a 5.9  magnitude earthquake. Reports indicate the epicenter of the quake was centered south of Washington D.C.

According to accounts on Twitter, the quake was felt from at least Massachusetts to South Carolina (news outlets in Atlanta have also reported feeling the quake), and some even reported feeling tremors as far west as Detroit.

According to a seismologist on MSNBC, earthquakes on the east coast are felt far more broadly because the earth is harder and more solid on the east coast as opposed to the west coast, which explains why so many have felt the quake.

At press time, there has been no reported damage or injuries, but the Pentagon, Union State in D.C., several airport control towers, and government buildings in New York City were evacuated as a precaution. Amtrak has also suspended service in several states while it checks its infrastructure.

As a Los Angeles native, I am used to earthquakes, but many are not. So here are a few tips for how to deal with an earthquake.

During the ‘quake:

Don’t freak out.

If you’re indoors, drop to the ground and take cover under something solid (a large, sturdy table, perhaps). Stay away from glass, windows, or anything that can be dangerous. If you can’t get under a sturdy table, get into a doorway.Do not use elevators. If you’re outside when an earthquake strikes, stay there! Make sure you are in an open space. Move away from buildings, cars, and windows.

After the earthquake:

Check on your people

Although it may be difficult to make calls after an earthquake because so many people will be trying to do the same, check on your loved ones. Make sure everyone is safe and secure. Amazingly, Twitter and other web-based services like Facebook work despite phone lines being too busy.

Expect aftershocks

Aftershocks are expected. If they occur, follow the above steps to stay safe during the shaking.


Earthquakes can be scary, but if prepared you and your family will be fine. Check out the FEMA website for more information on how to prepare for an earthquake and what to do if one strikes.

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