As Landmark Anniversary Nears, County Urges Residents to Prepare for Earthquakes

Even during a pandemic, natural disasters remain a significant risk

April 16, 2021
Redwood City –
 As the state readies to mark the anniversary of the The Great 1906 Earthquake on Sunday, local emergency leaders urge residents not to be caught off guard for natural disasters.

“Although we are emerging from the effects of Covid 19 and the risk of another dangerous fire season caused by drought, there is the ever-present risk of a major earthquake occurring.  Check your emergency supplies and take steps to be prepared,” Dan Belville, director of the San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services (OES), said.

April is “Earthquake Preparedness Month” and the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) Early Warning Program reminds residents that seconds count in saving lives during an earthquake.

Belville said downloading the no-cost MyShake App — the state’s early warning app that provides users a few seconds of notice that shaking is about to occur — is among the easiest and helpful actions residents can take because it is not a matter of if an earthquake will occur, but when.

Those precious few seconds give users a better opportunity to drop, cover and hold on (or lock, cover and hold on if using a wheelchair).

The MyShake App is available from Earthquake Warning California, the country’s first publicly available, statewide warning system. Other ways to receive earthquake warnings:

  • MyShake App. An app that can be downloaded for mobile devices at no-cost from Google Play the Apple App Store. App location services must be set to “always-on” so that ground sensors can alert those in the nearby area when shaking is detected.
  • Android Earthquake Alerts. Included in new or updated Android devices, the system uses the same technology as the MyShake App.
  • Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs). Text-like messages from the government during emergency situations. This includes: Presidential, Imminent Threats (fire, earthquake, floods, etc.), and AMBER alerts.

When an earthquake warning is issued from any of these sources, individuals should quickly take protective actions to stay safe, such as dropping to the ground, covering their head with their arms, and holding onto their neck with both hands until shaking stops. Do not stand in doorways or near glass windows.

San Mateo County residents should also sign up for SMC Alerts which will not provide early notice of imminent shaking but will provide critical direction in response.

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