What’s Next, 2020, an Earthquake? For California…Maybe


You thought 2020 couldn’t get any more 2020, didn’t you? Well, you might be wrong. I know by now you’ve read the title, so you might be thinking: An earthquake? California? Right now?? You’re joking.

Unfortunately, this is not a joke. But don’t worry, there’s no reason to panic. Let’s address the facts:

On August 10 of this year, a swarm of minor earthquakes near the San Andreas Fault appeared, the first one reported at 6:33 AM and the last at 12:29 PM. This fault is expected to have a large-scale quake every 200 years or so, and the last action in the area occurred all the way back from 1680 to 1690. Within the next 30 years, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7 or higher has a 20% chance of appearing.

So, when should I start planning?

It’s impossible to predict exactly when a “Big One”, as these quakes are called, would happen. However, it’s always a good time to make a plan. According to Roland Bürgmann, a professor at the UC Berkeley Seismology Lab, there are several ways to prepare:

-Mentally prepare. Think about where to go when the quake happens. Look in your surrounding area for places you can hide under.

-Follow this method: drop, cover, and hold on. The Earthquake Country Alliance states you should “Drop where you are onto your hands and knees, cover your head and neck with one arm and hand, and hold on until shaking stops.”

-Think about what you need to survive for 3 days without running water, power, and access to grocery stores. It’s important to have water, food, batteries and a plan for communication with friends and family.

A great suggestion by Professor Bürgmann is to keep a pair of shoes under your bed. Stepping on broken glass after an earthquake is a common injury, and it can be avoided by simply having a way to protect your feet.

About a year ago, an earthquake warning app for California was unveiled called MyShake. How close you are to the epicenter determines how much advance warning you will receive. If you are right by the epicenter you won’t receive any warning, but you could get up to 20 seconds to react the further you are away. It may not sound like a lot of time, but seconds make a difference, and could save a life.

We can only hope that an earthquake doesn’t come along to “shake” things up too much. But even though a quake isn’t our “fault”, not having a plan is, and we need to be as prepared as we possibly can for any possible outcome.

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