Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Next Big Quake is Due

For those living in California, earthquake predictions are a part of life. So much so that most minor tremors are often not even noticed. Warnings of an impending big one are usually given about as much importance as announcements that the sky is falling.

No One Is Crying Wolf

Experts at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) say that a big quake will hit the state in the next two and a half years. By big they mean a 5.0 magnitude, and perhaps even higher – up to 6.1 or more. The warning is based on extended research using the best technology available today. Earthquakes occur when the underground stress between the tectonic plates reach acritical point and the plates shift. The small and moderate quakes that are a common occurrence in the state do relieve some of the stress, but they can also cause the plates to shift to a more volatile position, making a big quake more likely. According to JPL, there is a 99% chance of a 5.0 magnitude quake hitting the Los Angeles area within 3 years. No part of the state is immune from the risk.

The U.S. Geological Survey says that the risk may not be so great. They say it is about 85%. But does that 14% reduction really mean much? Whichever source you believe, the chances are that a big quake is coming and coming soon. These are not doomsayers standing on street corners saying that the end is near. These are predictions from 2 of the most reputed scientific organizations in the world.

Earthquakes Are Inevitable

California has survived major quakes in the past and will do so in the future. The technology for earthquake prediction is improving and new materials and building systems are reducing the damage they cause. But earthquakes are the most powerful force of nature and will never be a way to completely negate the damage and loss they cause. Many people think that federal and state aid for earthquake victims will help them recover. It will not. This aid is meant only to provide immediate assistance to enable those affected to survive. It will not help them to get back on their feet and rebuild their lives.

Are You Prepared?

Being prepared for a quake does not mean building a concrete bunker and never leaving it. Preparedness is understanding the damage that a severe quake can cause and taking steps to protect your family and property if it should happen. The California Department of Public Health portal on Earthquakes contains a great deal of information on quakes and how you can prepare for them. More information can be obtained online and from municipal authorities. No matter what you do, damage to your home will always be a risk. The only protection you have and the only way to recover from it is with earthquake insurance. Your homeowner’s policy will not cover quake damage. You will need a separate policy for this. If you do not have coverage or are worried that what you have may not be enough, contact an insurance agent to learn what you need to do to protect your home and your future. Remember, the next one may be really big.

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