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SPECIAL REPORT: Earthquake safety

News 11's Melissa Zaremba shares how to prepare and why it’s always important to stay alert for when the next earthquake hits

IMPERIAL VALLEY, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - Most earthquakes are so small they aren’t always felt, but sometimes they can bring major destruction.

The San Andreas fault line is more than 800 miles long, which extends just enough to give some shaking right here in Imperial County.

There are several fault lines surrounding the Valley bringing minor to even major shakes across the area.

“History has shown us when an earthquake hits, services tend to be disrupted whether it's a short period or long period it will be unknown,” said the Imperial County Fire Department Deputy Chief Salvador Flores.

One of the biggest earthquakes to hit was the magnitude 7.2 Easter Sunday earthquake back in 2010 bringing at least two deaths with more than 100 injuries to our city. 

The second largest was a magnitude 6.9 quake in 1940 leading to eight deaths and at least 20 injuries. 

“Our grounds are a little bit different, the water table is closer to our surface therefore our earthquakes tend to be less damaging compared to more of a rocky area where the ground is more solid and an earthquake will cause more infrastructure damage,” said Chief Flores. 

But regardless of how big or small, earthquakes hit with no warning.

That’s why it’s important for Valley residents to do their part to always be prepared. 

“Having a plan is the most important thing, not only having one general plan but having multiple plans, whether it's daytime or nighttime, whether you’re at work, or children are at school,” explained Chief Flores. 

Keeping key items like food, water and some type of backup power is important to always have on hand. 

“Understanding the resources are going to be limited or might be limited, so expect the expectation of the worst, preparing for the worst, and hoping for the best is going to be key,” said Chief Flores. 

Since earthquakes can hit at any moment, it’s required by the California Department of Education that schools have a plan too. 

“The idea is if we can bring a standardized template or a standardized guidance for all of our schools. They would have similar products that would engage with our public safety partners. They are similar procedures that are followed in case of responding to emergencies,” said Director of Safety and Wellness for Imperial County Offices and Education Alvaro Ramirez. 

Our local school districts come together every year to ensure safety standards are met. 

“The big mantra that is followed is drop, cover, and hold on. And those are the drills that are practiced, different school districts will follow those drills to different levels of detail,” said Ramirez.

No matter where you are, safety officials encourage locals to know their surroundings. 

“The most important thing is to understand where you are at, places are at, and the fastest way to get out and find safety,” said Chief Flores.  

So in case of another unexpected quake, always remember to drop, cover, and hold on.

And stay away from glass windows, shelves, and heavy objects. 

To learn more about earthquake preparedness and to check for daily earthquakes within the area, click here

Article Topic Follows: Special Reports

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Melissa Zaremba

Melissa Zaremba joined KYMA in November 2021 and is the Chief Weather Forecaster.

If you have a story idea or want to share any weather pictures with Melissa, you can email her at


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