By Shawn Raymundo
While cities throughout the nation celebrated the July 4 holiday weekend, Southern California was rocked by two major earthquakes, increasing the possibility of aftershocks occurring throughout the week, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
A 6.4 magnitude quake first shook the city of Ridgecrest the morning of July 4. The desert town was hit again the following evening when a 7.1 tremor struck the area, causing further damage to buildings. No fatalities or major injuries were reported, according to news outlets.
Based on data collected from the public, the Geological Survey found that both earthquakes were felt as far away as Las Vegas and Phoenix. In the tri-city area, residents experienced light shaking and no damage from Friday night’s 7.1 quake.
Earlier in the week, the Survey’s earthquake hazards division had noted that anywhere from 55 to 120 small earthquakes and aftershocks of magnitude 3 or higher were likely to occur in the days following the 7.1 quake. The Survey had also reported there was a less than 1% chance an aftershock larger than magnitude 7.1 would occur.
“Magnitude 3 and above are large enough to be felt near the epicenter,” the Geological Survey previously stated. “The number of aftershocks will drop off over time, but a large aftershock can increase the numbers again, temporarily.”
Countywide earthquake assessments conducted by the Orange County Fire Authority found no reports of major damage or injuries following both quakes, according to Jon Muir, OCFA’s public information officer.
OCFA’s Heavy Rescue 6 was deployed to Ridgecrest to assist other emergency crews over the July 4 weekend by participating in damage assessments.
“There are some homes that the foundations have cracked, and there was some leaning of buildings,” Muir said, based on reports from the Heavy Rescue team.
Muir emphasized that OCFA is always coordinating directly with the county’s cities for emergency preparedness. Currently, OCFA is working on a countywide communication plan for earthquake preparedness training among city officials and residents.
“I think it’s going to be taking place sometime this year or next year,” Muir said, adding, “It’s been in the works, but definitely the recent (earthquakes) have raised expectations of different cities and people . . . so, yes, we definitely have put a priority on it.”
Muir encouraged local residents to head to the OCFA’s website to review its emergency preparedness page for details on setting up a disaster plan and making an emergency kit.
The federal government’s emergency preparedness site, Ready.gov, highlights several safety tips for what to do during and following an earthquake. During an earthquake, you should drop to your hands and knees, cover your head and neck with your arms and hold on to any sturdy furniture until the shaking has stopped.
In other situations, Ready.gov advises:
- Those who are driving to pull over and stop the car.
- Anyone in a bed to stay there and cover their head and neck with a pillow.
- People indoors to refrain from going outside until the shaking stops.
- Not to use elevators if you are in a high-rise building.
- To stay alert for falling rocks and landslides if you are near slopes, cliffs or mountains.—Shawn Raymundo