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New Jersey just encountered a force that we were not prepared for and no, we are not talking about the cast of Jersey Shore. Just before 2pm on August 23rd, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck in Virginia, causing tremors that spread as far north as Connecticut. Throughout New Jersey strong tremors took citizens by complete surprise with around 40 seconds of shaking due to seismic waves. New Jersey, along with most of the east coast, has long been taught the safety measures for such natural disasters such as hurricanes, nor’easters, and floods, but we have not been given much attention as to what to do if there was an earthquake. After today, everyone from Massachusetts to Georgia is left a little baffled on to how prepare for the next quake, so we have compiled some key safety tips for all our East Coast readers:

The first rule is to stay calm. Shaking usually only lasts a minute or so, and most damage comes from falling objects. Therefore, try to take cover towards the middle of your home or building, and stay under a sturdy table protecting your head at all times. If you have no access to a table, stand in a doorway away from any outside doors as they tend to be one of the strongest built structures in most buildings. Avoid windows, glass, or any unsecured objects such as light fixtures or bookcases. If you are indoors, do not attempt to run outside. According to studies done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, many injuries during earthquakes occur when victims are struck by falling items while trying to escape their homes. If you are outdoors, stay in open spaces away from buildings and electrical wires. Once the tremors have subsided, make sure all occupants are accounted for and no one is hurt. Stay conscious of the possibility of aftershocks, which are normally weaker in strength than the earthquake itself.

Earthquakes on the east coast are rare, but they are not unheard of; there have been around 20 reported cases of significant quakes in the Eastern United States since the 1700’s. This may be one of the first encounters many New Jersey residents have had with this type of force, and knowing the right steps to take in case there is a next time is vital. But as a New Jersey citizen, I can say once was enough.

Andrew J. D’Arcy is a trial lawyer and partner with the law firm D’Arcy Johnson Day. D’Arcy Johnson Day is a premier New Jersey litigation law firm, specializing in all areas of injury-based claims. For more information on this article or other topics, please call us toll free at 1-866-327-2952.


  1. Gravatar for Jessica Hoerman

    We had a few scares in the Midwest this year too -the last time I ran around the house frantically thinking it was a tornado. Oops!

    I would add a few safety tips - check your homes for possible electrical shorts, gas or water leaks as a result of the quake.

    The news seems to indicate there were no injuries or fatalities - so glad to hear it.

    We hope you can avoid the aftershocks.

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