Las Vegas Sun

September 16, 2019

Currently: 87° — Complete forecast

It’s time to prepare, Las Vegas: Earthquakes ‘can happen anytime, anywhere’

Group says it’s clear that earthquakes will continue in the Nevada

California earthquake

Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

Items are scattered around a kitchen Saturday, July 6, 2019 following a earthquake in Ridgecrest, Calif. The Friday evening quake with a magnitude of about 7.1 jolted much of California, cracking buildings, setting fires, breaking roads and causing several injuries while seismologists warned that large aftershocks were expected to continue for days, if not weeks.

As this past week proved, vigorous tremors can rattle earthquake-prone regions without warning. And being that Nevada ranks high in seismic activity, officials are urging Las Vegas area residents to be proactive in their emergency preparation.

Although a pair of earthquakes this week originated in California about 220 driving miles away from the Las Vegas, they were strong enough to sway the ground here, and even the hefty overhead scoreboard at the Thomas & Mack Center Friday night to bring confusion and moderate panic during a televised NBA Summer League game. And despite no casualties, the seismic activity near the Mojave Desert epicenters — a 6.4-magnitude shaker Thursday and 7.1-magnitude Friday night — was more consequential.

Nevada, much like California, is dubbed “earthquake country” by the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, a research arm at UNR. Nevada has had 76 earthquakes of 5.5-magnitude or above since the 1850s, and “it is clear that earthquakes will continue to occur in the state,” the group reports. They rank Nevada third nationally in seismic activity.

To avert tragedies past whatever infrastructural damage a large quake might provoke, the Great Nevada ShakeOut, an awareness campaign, has tips on what to do before and after the ground begins to rock. They recommend:

• Secure home decorations that might be susceptible of falling and injuring someone’s head.

• Heavy and taller furniture, such as bookshelves, also should be drilled into a wall.

• As a preventative measure, officials suggest stockpiling an emergency kit that includes water; face masks; canned food; a can opener; a flashlight; medications; phone chargers; important documents, and pet food.

• Families should have previously established a meeting point where to go after a quake.

• There are earthquake applications that can be downloaded in cell phones, including ones from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Southern Nevada Health District.

• During a shake, officials advise to drop underneath a sturdy structure, such as a table, and to cover the head. Pressing against an indoor wall or a corner also works. Avoiding shelter next to tall furniture is also recommended.

• Outdoors people should drop to the ground and motorists should pullover and remain inside their vehicles.

• Following the shaking, and once safe, officials recommend assessing the situation and the surroundings, making sure to stay away from hazardous areas.

• Since analog radios might be the only communication technology that works, it’s recommended to keep one handy, and monitor station for vital, post-disaster information.

• “Reach out for help,” said a narrator on a safety video put out by the U.S. government. For those trapped, they should make noise, but remain calm, and not shout as “dangerous particles can be inhaled.”

• Those impacted should prepare for the aftershocks that may follow.

• Officials recommend practicing the plan before disaster strikes, “because an earthquake can happen anytime, anywhere. You never know.”

Earthquake drills organized by the Great ShakeOut will occur about 10:17 a.m. on Oct. 17. For further information and to register, visit