Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

Shaking information

                                         July 2009



earthquake map

A map showing where earthquakes have occurred in the UK

It is always sad and disturbing when you read about terrible earthquakes – China, Japan, Indonesia, California, North Italy – there are regions in the world that are especially vulnerable to earthquakes because they sit on the edges of the moving plates that help make up the surface of the earth.

What few of us realize is that here in the UK we also suffer from earthquakes.

In April 2007 Kent was shaken by an earthquake of magnitude 4.3.

While the epicentre of the quake was a few miles off the coast in the English Channel, the quake caused shock waves in Folkestone and other nearby towns.The Kent Fire and Rescue Services took over 200 calls and there was damage to several buildings including cracked walls and fallen chimneys. One women was taken to hospital with a neck injury.

Even more recently, on the 27th February last year, there was an earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale. Its epicentre was near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, but the effects of the quake were felt throughout the country and reports of residents being woken from their sleep by the tremor came in from as far away as Wales, Scotland and London. The emergency services received a high level of calls from people frightened when they found their homes shaking.
Last month the area around Vaynor near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales was hit by an earthquake of a magnitude of 2 in the early hours.

In fact there are about 200 earthquakes in the UK each year, although only around 25 are strong enough to be definitely felt by residents.

According to the British Geological Survey, while we are not in the same league re earth quake risk as the most vulnerable areas of the world, we do have a risk. On average, the UK can expect only one earthquake larger than 3.7 on the Richter scale each year, one quake larger than 4.7 every 10 years and one quake larger than 5.6 every 100 years.

This risk is deemed sufficiently high to pose a potential hazard to sensitive installations such as nuclear power stations, dams and chemical plants. Other large construction projects such as the Channel Tunnel also need to be considered.

Along with all the information coming in on climate change, there have been some comments that the risk of earthquakes could be increasing. There doesn’t seem to be any official data to support this view and these comments probably came from the fact that today the monitoring of earthquakes has greatly improved. However, earlier this year a council in the Midlands issued the following guide lines on what to do if you do experience an earthquake. While this will still be an unlikely experience for most of us, it might be worthwhile knowing what to do just in case…

Actions to take should an earthquake occur

When the shaking begins:

• DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON! Move only a few steps to a nearby safe place
• Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you're sure it's safe to exit
• Stay away from windows
• In a high-rise building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to go off during an earthquake
• If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow
• If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines. Drop to the ground
• If you are in a car, slow down and drive to a clear place (as described above). Stay in the car until the shaking stops
After the shaking stops:
• Check yourself for injuries. Protect yourself from further danger
• Check others for injuries. Give first aid for serious injuries
• Look for and extinguish small fires. Eliminate fire hazards. Turn off the gas if you smell gas or think it's leaking. (Remember, only a professional should turn it back on)
• Listen to the radio for instructions
• Expect aftershocks. Each time you feel one, DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON!
• Inspect your home for damage. Get everyone out if your home is unsafe
• Use the telephone only to report life-threatening emergencies




Advertise on