USGS Real-Time Earthquakes

In the spectrum of natural disasters that can and do occur in Kanawha County, earthquakes are not high on the threat list. However, two very minor earthquakes have been centered in the county over the last 15 years.


Before an Earthquake

Prepare an emergency kit with at least a 72-hour supply of food and water, along with other supplies including a flashlight, portable battery-operated radio, batteries, medicines, first aid kit, money and clothing. Know the safe spots in each room – under sturdy tables, desks, or against interior walls. Know the danger spots – near wind0ws, mirrors, hanging objects, fireplaces and tall, unsecured furniture. Decide how and where your family will reunite if separated during a quake. Learn first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation.)


During an Earthquake

  • If you are indoors STAY THERE. Move away from windows, book cases, and high/overhanging shelves. Get under a sturdy table or desk and hold onto it. Be prepared to move with it and HOLD that position until the shaking stops and it is safe to relocated. If there is no desk or table to get under, brace yourself in an interior corner. Watch for falling, flying and sliding objects, and be especially careful around windows, as they can shatter during an earthquake.
  • If you are outdoors, move to an open area away from buildings, trees, power poles, brick or block walls and other objects that could fall.
  • If you are in an automobile, stop and stay in it until the shaking ends. Avoid stopping near trees and power lines or on or under overpasses or bridges.
  • If you are in a multi-level building, get under a desk and hold on, or crouch next to an interior wall until the shaking stops. DO NOT USE THE ELEVATOR TO EVACUATE. Use the stairs.
  • If you are in a store, get under a table or any sturdy object. Avoid stopping under anything that could fall. DO NOT RUN FOR THE EXIT.


After an Earthquake

  • Put on heavy shoes immediately to avoid injury from stepping on glass.
  • Locate a light source, such as a flashlight, if necessary.
  • Check for injuries and administer first aid.
  • Check for fires and fire hazards.
  • Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the hot water heater. If you smell gas, hear a hissing sound or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open the windows and carefully leave the house. DO NOT TURN LIGHTS ON OR OFF. DO NOT STRIKE MATCHES. Do not shut off the gas unless you suspect a leak exists. Only the gas company can restore service.
  • If necessary, turn off the electrical system at the main circuit breaker or fuse box.
  • Check on your neighbors.
  • Listen for advisories using a battery powered radio.
  • Do not touch downed power lines or objects touching downed wires.
  • Do not stand in water near downed lines.
  • Remove fallen debris that may cause personal injury.
  • Assess house, roof, and chimney for damages.
  • Do not use the phone except in emergencies. Only call 911 for life threatening emergencies.
  • Have a plug-in analog phone in case the power is out, but the phones lines are still working.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks.
  • Open closets and cupboards carefully because items may have fallen or become rearranged.
  • Cooperate with pubic safety officials. Be prepared to evacuate when/if necessary.
  • If you are able, visit the USGS website and fill out a Did you feel it? form.



Before the Storm

  • Know the difference between a flood watch and flood warning.
    • A flood watch means that forecasted conditions might create flooding.
    • A flood warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring.
  • Monitor TV and radio for flood warnings.
  • Know how to shut off electricity at the fuse panel and gas service at the meter when you can do so safely.
  • Develop a plan that includes evacuating while you can still do so safely, if necessary.
  • Keep insurance documents and valuables in a safe-deposit box or move them to upper floors.
  • Flash flooding affects more people in our area that river flooding. A flash flood may mean that you cannot access your home (or leave it) for a few hours until water recedes.

During and After the Storm

  • Don’t go near, swim, or dive through flood waters and avoid downed power and broken gas lines.
  • Monitor local radio and television for information from emergency officials.
    • If you live near a stream or in a flood prone area, monitor water levels when flooding is possible.
  • Follow local instructions regarding the safety of drinking water.
  • Report storm damage to the National Weather Service at (800) 401-9535.



Tornado/Wind Storm

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms.  Storms with so-called straight line winds can be just as violent.  They can appear suddenly without warning and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears.  Planning and practicing specifically how and where you take shelter is a matter for survival  Be prepared to act quickly.  Keep in mind that while tornadoes are more common in the Midwest, South east, and South west, they can occur in any state and at any time of the year, making advance preparation vitally important.


Prepare for a Tornado

  • Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a tornado hazard.
    • tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area.  You should monitor local NOAA radio and broadcast television and radio news outlets for the latest developments.
    • tornado warning is when a tornado is actually occurring; take shelter immediately.
  • Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning.
    • Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
    • If an underground shelter is not available, go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls.  Go to the center of the room.  Stay away from corners because they attract debris.
    • A vehicle, trailer, or mobile home does not provide good protection. Plan to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible.
    • If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under an overpass or bridge.  You are safer in a low, flat location.
    • Plan to stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.
  • Get a kit of emergency supplies.  Store it in your shelter location.
  • Visit NOAA Watch for more weather-related information.


Plan to Take Shelter

  • If local authorities issue a tornado warning or if you see a funnel cloud, take shelter immediately.
  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do.  However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
  • Stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.


Stay Informed

  • After a tornado, be sure to remain out of damaged buildings and stay clear of downed power lines.
  • Help injured or trapped people.  Check on others who may require special assistance, such as the elderly, children and people with disabilities.
  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do.  However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
  • Report storm damage to the National Weather Service at (800) 401-9535.


For more information on tornado risk areas and details on how to identify the safest place in your home to take shelter, see “Are you Ready?” from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


Brush Fire

Your Home and Yard

  • Follow all local building, fire and hazard abatement codes.
  • During spring and fall forest fire season, follow the law: no open burning between 7am and 5pm.
  • Install a smoke alarm on each level of your home and test them monthly. Always locate smoke alarms near bedrooms.
  • Have a fire escape plan and share it with the whole family. Practice it.
  • Clear combustible vegetation in a 100-foot radius from any structure.
  • When burning outdoors, maintain a 10 foot wide safety strip around the fire.
  • Outdoor burning laws require a method of extinguishment immediately available.
  • NEVER leave an outside fire unattended.


When Fire Approaches

  • Evacuate as soon as directed by public safety officials.
  • Place your disaster kit along with your valuables and other essentials in your vehicle.


Winter Storm

Before the Storm

  • Be prepared for the following possibilities.
    • Difficult or hazardous travel conditions.
    • Loss of electricity for several days.
    • Loss of heating.
    • Loss of water supply (if using a well).
  • Check family emergency supplies and replenish early.
  • Check gas supply for emergency generator.
  • If travel is essential, have a full tank of gas, an emergency kid and cell phone charger in the car and ensure someone knows your travel route.
  • Check the forecast frequently for changes.
  • Have extra batteries on hand and a battery-powered broadcast radio.
  • Keep cell phones charged.


During and After the Storm

  • Monitor local broadcast media and this app for emergency information.
  • If using a generator or alternative heating sources, protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. Never operate a generator inside the home!
  • Outdoors, avoid down lines.
  • If you can do so safely, clear heavy, wet snow from rooftops, awnings and carports.


Heat Emergency

A heat wave is an extended period of extreme heat, and is often accompanied by high humidity. These conditions can be dangerous and even life-threatening for humans who don’t take the proper precautions.

  • Prepare for a heat wave by checking to see if your home’s cooling system is working properly.
  • Make sure you home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and windows sills to keep the cool air inside.
  • Plan on being inside a cool building during the hottest time of the day.
  • Check on elderly friends and family.
  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activities.
  • Make sure you remain properly hydrated by drinking plenty of water and limiting intake of alcoholic beverages.
  • Eat light, well-balanced meals.
  • Dress in light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle.
  • Emergency officials will likely open cooling stations in buildings or on KRT buses when conditions warrant.

Stay informed about the types of medical conditions that can result from heat waves, and the proper First Aid measures that should be taken.

For more specific information, please refer to


Hazardous Materials

A hazardous material incident is an uncontrolled release of a chemical or other hazardous substance from an industrial facility, storage vessel, business, residence, vehicle, watercraft or rail car.  Such an event may require you to take swift action to protect yourself and your family.


You may be notified of a local hazardous materials incident in several ways, such as outdoor warning sirens, by emergency media broadcasts, recorded telephone messages or the Wireless Emergency Alert system (WEA).


Always listen carefully to the information provided to you and take the necessary action swiftly.  Monitor local broadcast media and this website for the latest information.  Avoid calling 911 or emergency officials for clarification; emergency information is repeated frequently by various means.  Call 911 for life-threatening emergencies only.


Most commonly, a Shelter-in-Place instruction will be issued for people near a hazardous material incident.  The Kanawha-Putnam Emergency Planning Committee has excellent educational resources on this topic.  Review and print their Shelter-in-Place brochure here and share this video with your family.  Your workplace should also have a Shelter-in-Place plan.  This information will help keep you safe and provide peace of mind.


Public Health Emergency

Public Health Emergencies include disease outbreaks, acts of bioterrorism, or natural disasters that can affect our food, drinking water, or air.  The first evidence of an attack may be when symptoms appear.


If You Are Exposed to a Suspicious Substance

Move away quickly.  Remove contaminated clothing.  Wash with soap and water.  Contact authorities.  Listen for official information.  Seek medical attention if you become sick.

  • Flu Outbreak
    Wash your hands often.  This will help protect you and others against germs.
  • When soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based disposable hand wash or gel sanitizers.
  • When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.  If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or the inside of your elbow, not your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  If you are sick, stay home and away from other people as much as possible to protect them from getting sick as well.
  • Get plenty of rest and c heck with your doctor.
  • Avoid smoking.  Smoking may increase the risk of serious consequences if you get sick.
  • Make a plan for someone to take care of children and people with access or functional needs if all adults in the household are sick.


Public Emergency Supplies

Have a two week supply on hand of medical and health supplies for you and your family, including:

  • Soap or water free alcohol-based hand wash.
  • Medicines for fever such as acetaminophen.
  • Cough syrup.
  • Thermometer.
  • Fluids with electrolytes and other oral rehydration solutions.
  • Oral rehydration solutions are used for people who have diarrhea, vomiting or fever.  These solutions contain water and salts in specific proportions to replenish both fluids and electrolytes.  Oral rehydration products are readily available in most drug stores.  It is generally advised, to begin giving fluids early in the course of an illness instead of waiting until the situation becomes urgent.
  • Prescription drugs:  If you or a family member regularly takes prescription drugs, plan on having enough medicine on hand to last for several weeks.


More information on public health issues is available from the Kanawha Charleston Health Department.



Terrorist tactics continue to evolve and may include chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive weapons, and cyberattacks.  Threats may come from abroad or be homegrown.  Learn what actions to include in your family disaster plan to prepare for and respond to terrorist threats.

Homeland Security begins with hometown security.  If you observe behavior that is overly suspicious, remember “SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.  CALL 911 AND REPORT THE FOLLOWING” and report the following:


Who or What you saw

When you saw it

Where it occurred, and

Why it was suspicious


During an Attack

If there is flying debris, drop down, take cover under something sturdy, and hold on to it with one hand while protecting your head and neck with the other.  If there is smoke, get near the floor, cover your mouth and nose with a cloth, and move carefully towards the nearest marked exit.  If it is necessary to evacuate, try to do so calmly.  Never use elevators.  Use only marked exit and stairways.  help others who are moving more slowly or who may be disoriented.  If you are not directly affected by the attack, try to stay calm, think before you act, encourage others, and comfort children.  Turn on news radio or television, and listen for official instructions.  Follow the directions of authorities.


After an Attack

Try to stay calm.  Think before you act.  Stay informed.  Listen to official reports and instructions on the radio or television.  If officials order an evacuation, cooperate quickly and follow their instructions regarding evacuation routes and shelter locations.  if officials tell you to “Shelter in Place,” they mean for you to stay inside your home, vehicle or workplace until it is safe to come out.  Wait for additional instructions.  Do not leave your sheltered location or return to the evacuated area until local officials confirm that it is safe to do so.  Implement your family emergency plan, and notify your out-of-state contact of your location and status.  Be aware of the psychological impact that terrorism can inflict, even when it happens to people you do not know personally.