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The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is out with a new map pinpointing where the next big earthquakes could hit the United States and, most importantly, who is vulnerable.

According to the USGS report, nearly half the U.S. population is at risk from a quake:

“More than 143 million Americans living in the 48 contiguous states are exposed to potentially damaging ground shaking from earthquakes. When the people living in the earthquake-prone areas of Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories are added, this number rises to nearly half of all Americans.”

That's a staggering statistic when you think of the damage earthquakes can inflict:

It was only recently that scientists realized how bad the threat was for the U.S.:

“The new exposure estimate is nearly double the previous 2006 estimate of 75 million Americans in 39 states, and is attributed to both population growth and advances in science."

This map shows the earthquake hot zones (watch for the colors: red is bad):

Image Credit: USGS
USGS

 

Clearly, California and the Pacific Northwest are believed to be at the highest risk:

“The Washington National Guard is developing a new response plan, with a focus on earthquake and tsunamis. The National Guard is holding workshops, which will eventually lead to a four-day exercise called 'Cascadia Rising' in June 2016, the Peninsula Daily News reports.”

Still, as the map and chart below show, a number of people in your state could be impacted by a big quake, as well:

Image Credit: USGS
USGS

According to FEMA, the best thing you can do to protect your family during an earthquake is to be prepared. The American Red Cross also recommends having an emergency preparedness kit containing at least food, water, flash light, batteries, a radio and first aid kit for starters.