MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Tornadoes and floods are common in the Mid-South, but experts say that earthquakes are the worst natural disaster when it comes to your health. The Mid-South sits on the New Madrid fault like and an earthquake is likely to happen in the future. Earthquakes are different than other natural disasters in that they are unpredictable; you cannot see one coming like you can a severe storm.
For every one person killed in an earthquake, three others are injured. Many times, injured victims can’t be treated because medical buildings will be damaged or collapsed after an earthquake. Infectious diseases spread when water and sanitation services are interrupted. Gangrene and sepsis are common. Health experts say the worst part of the earthquake aftermath is the images left behind.
Earthquakes cause worse psychological trauma than any other disaster. Depression and post traumatic stress are common, along with thoughts of suicide.
Jody Long, a UT Medical Group LCSW, says, “There tends to be a lot of insomnia. People have flash backs of the trauma, and it's very difficult for them to let go of it and move forward. There's the physical component of stress and the impact of a lot of fret and worry.”
After an earthquake in California, heart attacks rose 35 percent. Long says that we should not only be physically prepared with food and water, but preparation mentally is key. He suggests making a plan with your neighbors and family members of places to meet in the event of an earthquake. Being around others in the aftermath is what can help you stay hopeful.
“There's strength in numbers, and when you have people around you to help you through tough times, it makes a world of difference,” says Long.