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Earthquake preparedness: Residents urged to be prepared following recent seismic activity

Download earthquake alert systems, create an emergency plan, and pack a supply kit ahead of future quakes.

Recent seismic activity serves as reminder to plan ahead for future quakes. (Photo: adventtr from Getty Images Signature)

REDLANDS, Calif. — A series of 4-plus magnitude earthquakes have rattled areas in Southern California over the past few weeks, prompting the California Office of Emergency Services to issue a notice encouraging residents to prepare for the “next big quake.”

Why it matters: These tremors serve as a reminder of the dangers earthquakes pose and that all residents should prepare for a future, larger quake. While it’s impossible to predict when the next major earthquake will strike, taking small steps to prepare your family and community can alleviate the potential impact. 

Details: From Malibu to El Centro, Southern Californians have been feeling shakes in recent weeks. Redlands residents felt the jolt of a 4.2 magnitude quake in San Bernardino on Jan. 24. Most recently, a 3.6 earthquake was reported on Ontario on Feb. 16. 

At a recent press conference following the Malibu quake on Feb. 9, seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones explained "every earthquake in California has about a 5% chance of being followed by something bigger within the next couple of days," and urges people to be prepared.

Knowing what to do and how to be prepared is vital because, as the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) warns, it’s not if but when a bigger quake will happen.

Residents are urged to sign up for alerts through the MyShake App, a statewide warning system that uses ground motion sensors to warn people to take cover seconds before the shaking starts. Ahead of an earthquake, it is important to develop an emergency plan and pack an emergency supply kit. 

One valuable resource is the Earthquake Preparedness Checklist provided by the OES. This comprehensive checklist identifies items to set aside to be prepared. 

The following items should be stored in a plastic tub that is easily accessible:

  • Water: Three gallons of water per person for both drinking and hygiene.
  • Food: At least a three-day supply of nonperishable foods along with a manual can opener.
  • Medications: A week's worth of medication, both prescription and nonprescription. 
  • Cash: During emergencies, ATMs, credit or debit card systems might be down.
  • Important documents: Create copies of any documents you can’t lose.
  • Kitchen items: Utensils, cups, tupperware, napkins, garbage bags, disinfectant wipes, etc.
  • Blankets & clothes: Keep a spare set of clothes and blankets to keep warm and dry.
  • Radio: Pack a battery-powered or hand crank radio, preferably an NOAA weather radio.
  • Flashlight: Remember to pack extra batteries or light sticks. 
  • First aid kit & dust mask: This will help filter contaminated air.
  • Whistle & local map: The whistle can be used to signal for help while the map can help with evacuation if GPS is unavailable. 
  • Cell phone chargers: Pack a solar charger and fully charged power banks. The power banks will need to be recharged periodically.
  • Plastic sheeting & duct tape: This will help create shelter if needed. Consider adding a nylon rope as well.
  • Wrench and pliers: These tools can help with turning off utilities along with many other uses.
  • Also consider: hand warmers, waterproof matches, gloves, pocket knife and a fire extinguisher.