Emergency Preparedness 28 Years from Northridge


Southern California is due for the earthquake that experts and residents alike have dubbed “The Big One,” according to seismologists at The California Institute of Technology.

“The further in time we go away from a big event, the less likely something is going to happen,” said Jennifer Andrews, a Caltech seismologist. “But we are overdue for ‘The Big One.’

”If you were to visit the U.S. Geological Sur-vey website on any given day, you might be surprised at the number of earthquakes occurring in the southern California area.

On Jan. 11 within a 2-hour window, there was a 2.7 magnitude quake and a 2.8 magnitude in West Carson, a 1.5 in Fontana and a 1.6 in Carson.

But as we approach the anniversary of the Jan. 17, 1994 Northridge earthquake, we are reminded of being prepared for the next big one.


Geologists have looked back at the San Andreas fault, and found out how often the fault line had caused a 7- or 8-point magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale, and they then determined a repeat rate.

The San Andreas, according to Andrews, is supposed to record one of that size at least once every 150-200 years, depending on which section of the fault you look at.

The southern portion of the San Andreas fault, which runs parallel to the Santa Clarita Valley, has not gone off at that magnitude in some 300 years, she said.

“That’s really quite a long time for us to not have had a San Andreas, big earthquake,” Andrews said. “But it’s not predictable … and it’s not like clockwork.”

Geographically, Santa Clarita not only sits near the San Andreas faultline, but also sits on the San Gabriel fault line, the Sierra Madre fault zones and the Northridge blind-thrust fault.

A blind-thrust fault does not break through all the way to the surface. It is buried under the uppermost layers of rock, according to USGS. That is the type of quake that oc-curred in 1994.

“There are thrust faults running through Santa Clarita, and there are possibly some we don’t know are there,” said Andrews.

The Northridge earthquake was a 6.7 magnitude earthquake and the July 4, 2019 Ridgecrest was a 7.1, but the damage and ef-fect an earthquake has on people is all about the location of the epicenter.

If the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquake “had been in downtown Los Angeles, it would have been significantly damaging,” said Andrews. “Ridgecrest was in a relatively sparsely populated area, but if you had relocated it to one of our densely populated areas, you would have seen significant damage.”


The City of Santa Clarita’s emergency pre-paredness website has several pieces of information available — in English and Spanish — to prepare for emergencies ranging from earthquakes to fires to whatever nature decides to bring.

Beyond the essentials listed here, the city also recommends that emergency kits contain important documents, an ID such as a passport, emergency contact list, an inventory of valuable household items and personal photos.

Digital copies can be kept online so it is one less thing to worry about finding in an evacuation.

Other useful supplies that should be kept readily available could include a crow bar, shovel, broom, tool kit, rope and a bicycle.

The city also recommends residents create a pet emergency kit. Suggested supplies include three days of food in an airtight container, three days worth of water, a backup leash and collar, a sturdy crate or pet carrier and the pet’s favorite toys, treats and bed-ding.

“Emergency Preparedness is planning how to respond when an emergency or disaster occurs and working to gather the re-sources to respond effectively. These activities help save lives and minimize damage by preparing people to respond appropriately when an emergency is imminent or hits,” the city says.

Santa Clarita residents can sign up for the eNotify alerts that provide up-to-date information on a variety of issues from events to emergency preparedness. On the city signup page simply select the topics of interest.
For more information on the city’s emergency preparedness recommendations, visit shorturl.at/cpAM6. 

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