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Want to know if you're living in an earthquake danger zone? There's an app for that

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Screenshot of the new Earthquake Hazards Zone App
California Geological Survey
Screenshot of the new Earthquake Hazards Zone App

A new app from the California Geological Survey maps out the spots along fault lines, and those areas most at-risk for liquefaction or landslide.

Where you are right now, that could be one of the spots that'd be leveled in an earthquake.

Your house, your work, your local school — if you're curious at all about the danger level of any of those places, well, there's an app for that.

It comes from the California Geological Survey (CGS), and it shows you a map of all of the quake hotspots.

Just search for an address, click on the corresponding plot of land and see three different types of quake hazard:

  • A fault zone, which CGS defines as a place where the earth's surface breaks along a fault
  • A liquefaction zone, which is an area where a quake causes soil to temporarily turn to quicksand so it cannot support structures
  • A landslide zone, which is a place where a quake could cause a landslide

Tim McCrick, who heads the Earthquake Hazards Program with CGS, said the app was created because the maps CGS had were hard for people to access and understand.

So what was happening was people who were going through a real estate transaction and showing up at the table to sign all the papers and then were confronted with a natural hazards disclosure form, and that was the first inking that they might be affected by one of these ground failure hazards that we map.

If this information seems alarming, don't get too worried, McCrink said; this tool isn't meant to scare people, just let them be proactive about potential problems with earthquakes in their area.

We know that within any one of these zones, it's only a small proportion that will actually suffer from that ground failure hazard. Finding out after the disaster happens is probably the worst time to find out that you’re subject to one of these ground failure hazards. So the idea is to get the information out that there might be a problem so that the hazard can be investigated.

But it's never a bad idea to be prepared, so here are McCrink's tips to be ready for a quake:

  • Have supplies stored in case you have to shelter in place and remember utilities might be shut down
  • Have a plan for who you will get in touch with outside of your area to let loved ones know if you are safe or in need of help
  • Earthquake insurance is a good option to consider

​And if you feel the ground start to shake, McCrink says the old 'Drop, Cover and Hold On' is still the standard safety procedure.

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