Montana residents are encouraged to know what to do in an earthquake

Montana residents are encouraged to know what to do in an earthquake
Posted at 3:36 PM, Oct 22, 2021

HELENA — Thursday was International ShakeOut Day, a chance to practice earthquake drills in order to be safer and more prepared during the event of an actual seismic event.

The worldwide drill is held every year on the third Thursday of October. The system works by alerting participants through their mobile devices.

Jason Grimmis, Carroll College Director of Campus Security and Public Security, says there are important reasons for having an earthquake drill at Carroll College.

“The two purposes for running a drill is to get things back into the forefront of students’ minds and faculty’s minds is to think about safety. Number two is, you know, if you don't practice and think about what you would do in a certain situation you're not going to be prepared when an event happens. So, it was twofold along with testing our emergency notification system,” Grimmis explained.

Montana is one of the most seismically active states in the nation, but most earthquake activity is concentrated in the mountainous western third of the state. The reason is the Intermountain Seismic Belt. This belt includes at least 45 potentially active faults in Montana and has been the site of two of the largest historic earthquakes in the Rocky Mountains, the August 18, 1959 Hebgen Lake, Montana earthquake (magnitude 7.3) and the October 28, 1983 Borah Peak, Idaho earthquake (magnitude 6.9).

More recently, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck near Lincoln in 2017. Some foundational damage and inventory damage occurred during the quake. But it doesn’t quite compare to the devastating earthquake that took place in Helena back in 1935 ( magnitude 6.2). There were four deaths and 300 destroyed homes recorded between the main quake and aftershocks for the 1935 Helena earthquake.

Carroll student Ariana Collins is from the east coast where hurricanes can be a common seasonal issue and emergency preparedness is necessary. Collins appreciates Carroll College’s foresight and readiness for a possible future earthquake.

“There are a lot of moments in life where you just can't anticipate it and it's good to be prepared and be in a community that also vocalizes that,” said Collins.

Grimmis wants to remind everyone to have an emergency preparedness kit at home and of what to do in the event of an earthquake.

“The first thing you want to do is cover your head and drop to the ground. Don't lay flat, but try to stay on your knees and your hands, with one hand covering your head or your neck. And you want to lean forward to where you're protecting your torso, your organs. And then you want to get under some sort of solid stable shelter such as a desk or something like that,” said Grimmis.

More information about the Great ShakeOut and what to do in the event of an earthquake can be found here.