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California is no stranger to earthquakes. According to the California Department of Conservation, each year, residents of the state can expect to experience 2-3 earthquakes of at least 5.5 magnitude (that's big enough to cause moderate damage to homes and buildings).

Earthquakes can occur at any time, too, and their unpredictability is part of what makes them so dangerous. Although scientists have been able to construct models that help them estimate where and when the next earthquake will occur, unfortunately, we still don't have a way of predicting earthquakes with any certainty.

A Guide to Earthquake Preparation

For these reasons, preparing for an earthquake is essential for anyone living in an area where these disasters frequently occur. Fortunately, there are a few easy steps you can take to keep you and your family safe:

  • Make an earthquake kit. Depending on the severity of the earthquake, crucial infrastructure like electricity, water, and grocery stores might not be available. Having an earthquake survival kit ready to go will ensure that even if you're trapped at home without access to resources, you'll be okay. Below are a few things to put in your kit:
    • First aid kit
    • Enough water and food to last about three days
    • Warm clothing and blankets
    • Flashlight and batteries
    • Extra cash
    • Battery-operated radio
  • Make a plan. In the event that an earthquake happens while you're at work or away from home, you might become separated from your family members. Designate a safe place for everyone to reunite, and ask a friend or family member who's not in the area to serve as your family's emergency contact in the event that you're not able to make local calls.
  • Earthquake-proof your home. In California, building codes require that most newer buildings comply with a set of seismic safety requirements. However, older buildings that predate those codes might be less resilient to earthquakes. If you're unsure of your home's earthquake readiness, consider asking a professional to come inspect your home and identify any major structural weaknesses.

    Inside your home, be sure to secure any tall, heavy furniture or wall mountings, such as shelves, decorations, and light fixtures. Store heavy and/or breakable items closer to the ground in case they fall. Be sure to also check your electrical wiring and gas lines to make sure they're sound—if these things are defective or weak, they can be a potential fire hazard in the event of an earthquake.

Spectrum Community Services is committed to improving the quality of life for low-income families, seniors, and individuals in Alameda County. Through financial assistance and other services, our goal is to support community members in building healthy, safe, and independent lives. Contact us to learn more about our services, or consider making a donation to support our work. We can't wait to work with you!