An earthquake is the sudden release of energy from the Earth’s crust which results in seismic waves that can be destructive. Most earthquakes are associated with particularly active regions of the Earth where huge plates contact each other. Hennepin County is far from these active regions and is in a relatively stable area of middle North America. However, earthquakes have struck Minnesota and will almost certainly continue to do so in the future. The closest earthquake epicenters to Hennepin County were in Cottage Grove in 1981 (measured 3.6 Richter scale) and in New Prague in 1860 (estimated 4.7 Richter scale). Hennepin County has a much lower risk of earthquakes than most of the rest of the United States.

Even though we do not live in a primary area for earthquakes, we still need to be prepared in the event one occurs. 

In the event an earthquake occurs:

  • Try to remain calm and reassure others. Do not panic
    • An earthquake can come suddenly and may not last very long
  • If possible position yourself underneath a heavy desk of table.
    • Remain there until the earthquake has stopped
  • Move away from windows, glass partitions, and from beneath light fixtures
  • An earthquake can shake these items loose and cause serious injury
  • Stand in an interior doorway or in the corner of a room
  • Do not stand next to bookcases, large open files, or anything that might topple over in an earthquake
  • Be prepared for the electricity to go out, emergency alarms to start ringing, and the sprinkler systems to go off
  • Expect to hear glass breaking, walls cracking and objects falling
  • When the earthquake has stopped, occupants of the Building should follow the same procedures as in the case of a fire or tornado. Move to the corridors and await further instructions

AFTER an earthquake occurs:

  • Tend to the injured, call 911 if necessary. Administer first aid if directed by 911. 
  • If the Building is evacuated following an earthquake, stay away from objects that may topple (brick walls, power lines, etc.). Designate a safe refuge area away from the building, if possible.
  • Check for fires and fire hazards. Put out any fires immediately, if it is safe for you to do so. 
  • Do not touch power lines, electrical wiring, or objects that are in contact with power lines or wiring. 
  • Listen to a battery powered radio for information about earthquake and disaster procedures.
  • Be very cautious when exiting or moving about a damaged building.  
  • Even after an earthquake has stopped, it is likely that aftershocks will occur. Be prepared.
  • NO SMOKING! No open flames! Gas leaks are not uncommon after an earthquake.