What is an earthquake?

An earthquake is caused by a sudden slipping or movement of a portion of the earth’s outer layer, called the crust. This sudden movement occurs along faults, or breaks in the earth’s crust along which blocks of earth move when built-up strain is released. The release of tension can cause the ground to shake violently, resulting in damage to buildings, roads, and utility systems over a wide area. Earthquakes can occur at anytime of the day or year with no warning.

Did you know that an earthquake occurs somewhere in Southern California almost every week? Most of them are too minor for anyone to feel them. However, much larger earthquakes have occurred in our area in the past, and will occur again sometime in the future. Major fault zones run throughout Orange County. If a large-magnitude earthquake were to occur along one of these faults today, the impact would be devastating.

How do you know if an earthquake just occurred?

There are many resources providing up to the minute information on earthquakes and other geological events. Click on the links below to find out more!


Click HERE to visit the US Geological Survey Preliminary Earthquake Report for Southern California



Click HERE to visit the US Geological Survey Real-time Earthquake Maps



Click HERE to visit the Southern California Earthquake Data Center

Earthquake Preparedness:

You can prepare your home by taking a few basic precautionary steps to safeguard yourself and your loved ones.

  • Anchor heavy furniture and appliances to wall studs.
  • Place heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Secure shelves, mirrors, and large picture frames to walls.
  • Store glass, china, and other breakables on low shelves or in cabinets that fasten shut.
  • Learn how to turn off utilities. (Only turn off utilities if necessary. Natural gas can only be turned back on by a professional)
  • Locate safe spots in each room. (under sturdy table, against an inside wall)
  • Hold earthquake drills with your family.

What do I do during an earthquake?

  • Stay calm. Panic is contagious. By staying calm, you will be more alert to handle an emergency
  • Drop, Cover, and Hold on.
  • If you're inside, stay inside. Take cover under a table or heavy piece of furniture.
  • If no protective cover is available, sit next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
  • Stay away from glass/windows or objects that could fall.
  • If outside, stay there. Move into an open area away from buildings or electrical wires.
  • If you're in a car, try to find a place to stop.

What should I do after an earthquake?

  1. Remember to assess the 3 'S's
    • SELF - Assess yourself for injuries. Falling debris during an earthquake is the number one cause of most traumatic injuries.
    • SURROUNDINGS - Assess your immediate area for other dangers such as exposed electrical wires, broken water mains, gas lines, etc.
    • SURVIVORS - If it is safe to do so, help anyone in need of assistance. Render first aid to those in need of it.
  2. Check gas, electric, and water lines for damage
    • Shut off the valves of any damaged utility lines.
    • If you smell gas, leave the building immediately.
  3. Listen to the radio for news
  4. Only use the phone for emergency related communication
  5. Stay out of damaged buildings
  6. Be prepared for aftershocks