Officials also warned Illinoisans to be wary of people offering to repair earthquake damage, write earthquake insurance policies or insist that they can get paid by an insurance company for repair costs. Because earthquakes are so rare in the Midwest, most home and business-owners have historically declined to purchase earthquake insurance, which is offered as separate coverage at additional costs. If a homeowner does not have earthquake insurance, damage caused by the earthquake may not be covered.
“Earthquakes certainly are not common here in Illinois and so it is understandable that people may be concerned about feeling vibrations in the hours and days ahead. We want to make sure people understand what is taking place and how to prepare for aftershocks as much as they can,” said Governor Blagojevich. “We also want people to be very wary of those offering to repair damage or write insurance policies following the earthquake. Unfortunately, there can be people who try to capitalize on events like this.”
There are things homeowners can do to protect their property and make sure any damage is repaired by reputable contractors. After an earthquake or other natural disaster, families and business owners should take additional care when hiring a contractor to repair any damage:
Hire a local contractor. Deal only with established firms or individuals who can provide references and are willing to give you a signed contract.
Check with your local building code department or the Better Business Bureau for guidance.
Don’t rush into signing a contract. Collect a number of estimates for the job.
Obtain written estimates before repairs begin.
Homeowners who have earthquake insurance should notify their insurance company immediately if they suspect they have earthquake damage. The company will assign a representative to evaluate the damage and work with the owner to determine when and how reimbursements for repairs will be made. Since all insurance contracts are not the same, homeowners should work directly with their insurance agent to review their policies and coverage.
Most Illinois homeowners’ insurance companies offer earthquake insurance. Homeowners may want to talk with their insurance agents about whether it makes sense to purchase additional coverage for all potential dangers. Additionally, homeowners with insurance questions may contact the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Insurance Hotline at 866/445.5364.
Illinois could experience many smaller seismic events at any time over the next several days; however most will not be felt by the majority of the state. Scientists from the Illinois State Geological Survey are currently coordinating with staff from Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Memphis where the Center for Earthquake Research and Information is located. These scientists are in Illinois to measure these smaller seismic aftershocks.
What are Aftershocks?
Aftershocks are additional earthquakes that occur after the mainshock and in the same geographic area. Usually, aftershocks are smaller than the mainshock, but occasionally an aftershock may be strong enough to be felt widely throughout the area and may cause additional damage, particularly to structures already weakened in the mainshock. Aftershocks are most common immediately after the mainshock and are most likely to be felt in the first few days after the mainshock.
What to do during an earthquake or aftershock:
Stay calm and expect earthquakes or aftershocks to last for a few seconds up to a few minutes.
If you are inside a building or other solid structure…stay there until the event is over.
Duck or drop down to the floor
Take cover under a sturdy desk, table or other furniture.
Avoid danger spots near windows, hanging objects, mirrors, or taller furniture
When driving, stop safely as soon as possible. Stay in the vehicle until shaking stops. Do not stop vehicles under overpasses or on bridges.
What to do after an earthquake or aftershock:
Check for injuries and render first aid
Avoid other hazards such as fire and chemical spills
Check utilities such as gas, water and electricity. If safe, shut utilities off at the source.
Do not use matches, candles and lighters inside
Turn on a battery powered radio and listen for public safety information broadcasts
Personal preparedness is important for any type of emergency, including earthquakes. IEMA recommends people throughout Illinois maintain a disaster supply kit with essentials, such as:
Water – at least one gallon per day per person (minimum of three-day supply)
Food – a three-day supply of non-perishable foods.
Flashlight and extra batteries
Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
Prescription and non-prescription medications
Items for children, the elderly and special-needs individuals
Additional preparedness information, along with updates on today’s earthquake, is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov