Be Prepared: What You Need to Do Before California’s Next Big Quake

Making it through the earthquake is easy—the hard part comes later.

  •   PUBLISHED MAR 10, 2022 3:54 P.M.
Share this:  
Though it’s the most famous, the San Andreas Fault is just one of more than 500 active faults in California.

Though it’s the most famous, the San Andreas Fault is just one of more than 500 active faults in California.   Jonas D. Bell

If you live in California and you’re near a faultline, experts say it’s a certainty that a major earthquake will hit your region. They just can’t be certain when it will hit. Sure, the Big One might not happen in your lifetime. But an earthquake greater than magnitude 7.0 is overdue on just about every major fault that runs through California, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Thankfully, early warning systems might buy us all a few precious seconds to get to safety before a major earthquake hits. But it’s being prepared for the first few days after an earthquake that can make the difference between life and death for many. As we saw with Hurricane Katrina, it took several days for federal aid to reach the region and provide substantive support to survivors.

A major earthquake will cripple a region for many days and weeks with only the most critical injuries being treated and emergency response systems overwhelmed with calls for help, experts say. Firefighters and police will triage to tackle the biggest problems first, and there are sure to be major fires that spring up everywhere due to busted gas lines. Police will be primarily focused on stabilizing the region, tamping down chaos as average citizens panic and predatory criminals take advantage of the situation. We all hope that an emergency will bring the best out in our neighbors, but there will be exceptions—and those exceptions will get more pronounced as more time goes by without outside assistance.

Unless you need medical care, you can expect to be on your own for several days before the cavalry comes to the rescue. A little preparation will go a long way toward getting through the ordeal. Here’s a concise checklist, plus some suggestions of where you can go for more information.

    Support California Local

    $10 • $25 • $50 • Our Impact

    Long form articles which explain how something works, or provide context or background information about a current issue or topic.

    Join Us Today!