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Buckle up for likely earthquake aftershocks, geologists say. Here's how the East Coast should prepare.

Grace Eliza Goodwin,Morgan McFall-Johnsen   

Buckle up for likely earthquake aftershocks, geologists say. Here's how the East Coast should prepare.
  • Geologists say the East Coast could be in for more earthquakes in the weeks ahead.
  • There's also a slim chance of aftershocks with a similar or larger magnitude, the USGS said.

Aftershocks could hit the East Coast following Friday's 4.8 magnitude earthquake, and millions of people in the region should prepare in the unlikely event the earthquake is bigger next time, the US Geological Survey said.

"There is a likely chance that there will be more felt earthquakes in the two or three range, and then a small chance that there could be another earthquake of similar or larger magnitude," Paul Earle, a seismologist at the USGS National Earthquake Information Center, told reporters on Friday.

"You just need to be prepared," Earle added.

Already, a magnitude 4.0 aftershock hit just before 6 p.m. ET, USGS confirmed Friday.

Don't stand inside a doorway when an earthquake hits. It turns out that's just a survival myth.

Instead, you should drop where you are, cover your head and neck, ideally crawl under a table, and hold on until the shaking stops.

Possible aftershocks could be damaging.

"As a reminder, damaging earthquakes can occur in the future," Jessica Jobe, a research geologist with the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, said on Friday. "And no one can predict the exact time or place of any earthquake, including the aftershocks."

One of the most important things you can do to prepare, Earle said, is to create an emergency plan.

He said to be sure to move objects on shelves or walls that can fall on you, especially while you're sleeping. And, he added, have a plan for contacting your relatives in case of an emergency.

When making your emergency plan with members of your household, you should map out your evacuation route, coordinate who will retrieve emergency supplies and where they will be located, and devise a reconnection plan if you are separated, Business Insider previously reported.

Another great step to prepare for an earthquake — or any emergency — is to assemble a "bugout bag" that should include things like a first aid kit, an emergency radio, flashlights, medicine, and a gas and water shutoff tool.

In the event of a major quake, you should also keep at least one gallon of water per person on hand in case you become trapped in your home and lose access to your home's water supply.

Having a fire extinguisher in your home and enough non-perishable food to last a few days is also valuable for emergency situations.

The 4.8 earthquake that hit Friday was centered in New Jersey, about 30 miles west of Newark, but its effects were felt as far away as Boston, Philadelphia, and Maine.

The USGS said it's uncommon to have earthquakes in the region, but not unexpected.

It was the third-biggest quake ever recorded in New Jersey and the largest in the state in nearly 250 years, according to a 2019 earthquake mitigation report.

As of Friday afternoon, authorities hadn't reported any injuries or major structural damage caused by the quake.


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