The frequency of major climate events such as flooding and earthquakes is often described in terms of the probability of its occurrence. We speak of one hundred- or two hundred-year floods, or five hundred-year return periods for major earthquakes. These references to probability can create a false sense of security around the likelihood of an event actually occurring.
As last weekend's magnitude 6.0 quake in northern California clearly demonstrates, just like the proverbial coin toss, probability resets immediately after an event. The last major earthquake, the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta quake, occurred in the area just 25 years ago in 1989.
Despite the tools available to them, seismologists and other experts cannot predict exactly when an earthquake will occur. They can only tell us that it will, in fact, occur.
Fortunately, reports of serious injury coming out of the Bay Area are few. Preliminary images and accounts emerging from the area suggest that much of the damage, and many of the injuries, were the result of broken glass and the movement of unsecured items such as drawers, cabinet doors and unstable furniture. Power outages and gas leaks have also been reported.
Knowing how to prepare for an earthquake, and how to respond when one occurs, can and will save lives as well as reduce personal injury and property damage. It is the responsibility of those of us who live in earthquake-prone areas to take the necessary precautions. No matter how infrequently statistics suggest a quake will occur, treat it as the expected event it actually is. HUB's Risk Services Team can help.
Here are some excellent general resources around preparing for an earthquake, as well as steps to take during and in the immediate aftermath of the quake. Contact a HUB Risk professional today to discuss your specific needs.