Worried About Living In An Earthquake Hazard Zone? There's An App For That

New Web App Locates Earthquake Hazard Zones

Are you worried about what might happen when the ground starts shaking under your feet? Southern California residents have known that the 'Big One' is coming for decades and many have done their part to prepare by purchasing earthquake insurance, storing emergency supplies, and working to retrofit their soft-story homes. But now, residents can avoid the hazards from quakes and stay on solid ground with the help of a new app. 

The Earthquake Hazards Zone Application app allows homeowners to input their address and see whether or not their home has been built on a fault line, or is in an area that is at risk of liquefaction. Liquefaction occurs when the shaking is so strong, the ground tends to move like a liquid, meaning anything built on top of that is in danger of sliding around, or in post-earthquake landslide zones. 

California State Geologist John Parrish says the app is now available on their website and that it was a useful tool for homeowners. 

"We came up with this app, so that real estate people, contractors, future homeowners and so forth, can take a look at a piece of property and see if it might be impacted by some of these geological earthquake hazards," Parrish said. 

Homeowners are required to disclose whenever existing homes and structures within an earthquake hazard zone is sold. Regulations also say that homeowners who want to start new construction or 'major remodel' must study the site so builders can avoid the hazards. 

"If someone wants to build or buy a home, and there is a zone there, then before they build, they must take some engineering design actions to make that house more resilient to that kind of ground activity," Parrish said. 

The maps show where hazards exist, however that doesn't mean those risks will actually happen in the event of a big quake. Experts say that all depends on where the earthquake is centered and which faults move. 

Los Angeles is already doing their part to enhance homeowners' safety by requiring retrofits of the soft-story buildings in the city, which were especially vulnerable to collapse during the 1992 Northridge earthquake. 

As of January, the Los Angeles City Council said at least 9,000 buildings still need to be retrofitted. 

Photo: Getty Images

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