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Half of Americans Are At Risk for Earthquakes — How Can We Better Prepare for Disasters?

posted: 08/14/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Wind testing
Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

Almost 150 million Americans in the lower 48 states live in an area that could potentially be hit by earthquakes, according to a new report from the United States Geological Survey. Amongst all 50 states, nearly half of the population is at risk.

The new report, released earlier this week, nearly doubles a 2006 estimate by the same agency. Population growth in earthquake-prone areas and advances in quake-measuring technology are to blame for the swelling risk, researchers say.

In light of the shocking announcement, we asked Chrysanthe Broikos, the curator of the National Building Museum, how to best prepare for earthquakes and other natural disasters.

"The best way to start is to create emergency plans -- within a home or for a larger scale community. This is an effective strategy not just for disaster mitigation, but can be applicable to all forms of disaster," Broikos explains. "Ready.gov is a good online resource to get you started."

Broikos recommends building an emergency preparedness kit with survival essentials like batteries and water. Specialized items, like a NOAA weather radio or nonperishable food items, should also be considered -- although these items very depending on which natural disaster risks your community faces.

To fully prepare for a disaster, however, Broikos insists that we must be more proactive in designing buildings that are capable of withstanding nature's powerful forces -- "designing for" nature, as she calls it.

"Building safer means fundamentally rethinking our relationship with water and land, and then starting to embed resiliency into the community in general. Strength can be woven into the fabric of the community via larger scale emergency plans -- not only through meaningful code enforcements and materials, but also through innovative use of media and technology."

Broikos created "Designing for Disaster", an exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., which focuses on innovative approaches to design and engineering that protect both human life and property. The installation also highlights efforts undertaken by local leaders to create more disaster-resilient communities.

Click here for more information about the "Designing for Disaster" exhibit at the National Building Museum.

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