Here in California, the threat of a devastating earthquake is always looming. While many other states have other serious natural hazards and potential for disasters, earthquakes are unique in that you cannot effectively forecast and avoid an earthquake. Yes, seismologists can roughly forecast and predict, but at the end of the day, the earth rumbles spontaneously when under stress. Given the most recent earthquake warnings I thought I should take the time to explain to everyone what to do if you are caught driving during an earthquake.

Basic Safety Steps

The first step is recognizing that the ground is shaking. While focusing on traffic or surrounding hazards, you may not realize what is happening for a couple of seconds. Once you have realized that you are in an earthquake, you need to find a safe place to pull over. Ideally, you would like to avoid overpasses, bridges, tall buildings or large overhangs, tall signs, large trees, power lines or dams. Some of those listed above are easier to avoid than others may be. Once pulled over, you should set the parking break and turn off the engine. This will help you avoid collisions with other people outside.

Once secure, you should turn on your radio. Listen for the emergency broadcast, as this will give you important information regarding the status of the city as well as any emergency shelters available. You should stay in your vehicle and listen to the emergency broadcast until the shaking stops completely. Once the shaking has stopped and the aftershocks have settled, you may proceed cautiously. Once again, listen to the radio emergency broadcast to learn about the road conditions and the risk of further aftershocks. If there are floodwaters from reservoirs, broken sewer lines, or broken fire hydrants, do not drive through them. Following the earthquake, it may be difficult to reach family and loved ones over the phone. The best decision you can make is keep yourself safe during and after the crisis.