1985 Mexico City earthquake

Don’t Wait Until The Big One To Be Earthquake Prepared

Living in California, there are constant reminders about the threat of earthquakes. On average, Southern California has about 10,000 earthquakes each year.

Prioritizing earthquake preparedness is a must for all Californians.

With various regions of the United States still reeling from destructive hurricanes, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck the Puebla area of Mexico on September 19. Search and rescue efforts are ongoing in impacted areas, where hundreds have died and buildings have collapsed.

Twelve days earlier, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake occurred offshore of Chiapas in southern Mexico.

 

Earthquake Strikes on Anniversary

More than 30 years ago on September 19, Mexico City was leveled by an 8.1 magnitude earthquake. The 1985 earthquake struck at 7:18 a.m., killing thousands and causing extensive damage to Mexico City and the surrounding region.

That event occurred about 280 miles to the west of the September 19 earthquake, according to the US Geological Survey.

 

Great California ShakeOut

To be prepared for the next earthquake, click here for more information on the 2017 Great California ShakeOut. Millions of people worldwide will practice how to Drop, Cover, and Hold On at 10:19 a.m. on October 19 during the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills, which began in California in 2008.

The drills are intended to assist families in preparing to survive and recover quickly from significant earthquakes, regardless of location, work or travel.

 

Drop, Cover, Hold On

Here are some preparedness tips on how to Drop, Cover and Hold On:

Indoors:  Avoid exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances, and kitchen cabinets with heavy objects or glass. Do not go outside during shaking. If seated and unable to drop to the floor: bend forward, cover your head with your arms, and hold on to your neck with both hands.

Individuals using a wheelchair: Lock your wheels and remain seated until the shaking stops. Always protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, a book, or whatever is available.

In a stadium or theater: Drop to the ground in front of your seat or lean over as much as possible, then cover your head with your arms, and hold on to your neck with both hands until shaking stops.

In a store: Getting next to a shopping cart, beneath clothing racks, or within the first level of warehouse racks may provide extra protection.

Outdoors: Move to a clear area if you can safely do so; avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles, and other hazards. Then Drop, Cover, and Hold On.

Driving: Pull over to the side of the road, stop, and set the parking brake. Avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking stops. If a power line falls on the car, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.

 

Earthquake Preparedness

Consider these steps to begin preparing your home and family, per the Cal OES Earthquake, Tsunami and Volcano Program:

  1. Identify potential hazards in your home and begin to fix them.
  2. Create a disaster-preparedness plan.
  3. Create disaster kits.
  4. Identify your building’s potential weaknesses and begin to fix them.
  5. Protect yourself during earthquake shaking.
  6. After the quake, check for injuries and damage.
  7. When safe, continue to follow your disaster-preparedness plan.

 

Did You Know?

  • To date, no one has predicted an earthquake. To do so requires identifying the fault, giving the magnitude and limiting the time period when the event would occur.
  • Most homeowners insurance does not cover damage caused by earthquakes. Emergency loans or grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) do not take the place of earthquake insurance. Read more: FEMA.gov
  • Mobile homes and homes not attached to their foundations are at particular risk during an earthquake. Buildings with foundations resting on landfill and other unstable soils are also at increased risk of damage.
  • After a disaster, use of cell phones can shutdown wireless phone service and prevent 911 calls from getting through. To communicate after an earthquake, send a text, don’t call. Even if a text gets a “busy signal” the phone will continue attempting to send the message.

 

Additional resources

Cal OES

US Geological Survey (USGS)

California Earthquake Authority (CEA)

Jonathan Gudel

Jonathan Gudel is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). Since joining Cal OES, he has assisted in the response and recovery efforts of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, the state's historic drought, the Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, unprecedented winter storms in 2017, the October (Sonoma County) and December (Santa Barbara County) 2017 wildfires, and statewide wildfire siege in 2018 . Previously, he worked in the newspaper industry for 12 years.

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