Don’t let an earthquake catch you off guard! The California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) launched the first ever statewide public earthquake warning system, Earthquake Warning California.
Californians can receive earthquake warnings with the state’s free MyShake App, which can be downloaded on the Apple App Store or Google Play on smartphones or tablets. The MyShake App is currently available in English and Spanish, with other languages in the works. The technology links mobile devices with ground sensors to send warnings to those in the nearby area when significant shaking is detected so that individuals have a few extra moments to take protective actions, such as to drop, cover, and hold on.
Earthquake Warning California also includes Android Earthquake Alerts that are built into new and updated Android devices and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) for WEA-capable mobile devices. Cal OES encourages individuals with WEA-capable mobile devices to still download the MyShake App, since the MyShake App and Android Earthquake Alerts are issued when a magnitude 4.5 earthquake is anticipated, while WEAs will alert users when a 5.0 magnitude earthquake is expected.
The MyShake App uses technology that includes seismic sensors located deep in the ground. When shaking is detected, the system issues a warning to nearby mobile devices. For this reason, MyShake App and Android Earthquake Alert users must set their app location settings to “always on” to ensure they receive an earthquake warning even if the app isn’t open.
The MyShake App and Android Earthquake Alerts issue warnings when a 4.5 magnitude earthquake is anticipated, while WEAs are sent when a 5.0 magnitude earthquake is expected. The length of warning depends on a number of factors, including how big the earthquake is, how deep it started in the earth, how close the seismic sensors are to each other, and how quickly the data can move from the seismic sensors to MyShake users.
There may be times where an alert is issued and no shaking is felt. Cal OES reminds Californians to always react with the assumption that shaking is about to occur when they receive an alert. Do not take shelter in a doorway, near glass windows, or large structures that can be compromised in an earthquake, such as freeway overpasses. When you receive an earthquake warning alert or start to feel shaking, be sure to drop, cover, and hold on until shaking stops. When seeking cover, make sure your entire body is underneath a sturdy table or desk, or get down near an interior wall or low-lying furniture that will not topple over. If driving, safely pull over to the side of the road and pull the parking brake. With appropriate planning and preparation, you can be one step ahead of an earthquake, prevent injuries, and help build a resilient community.
To learn more about Earthquake Warning California, the MyShake App, or the other earthquake warning resources, visit https://earthquake.ca.gov/.