You just moved to the West Coast?
Congrats, neighbor! You know what they say, the West Coast is the best coast.
Life along the Pacific Ocean is incomparable.
As you’ll soon learn, there is no shortage of things to do in our mild climate. If you’re the outdoorsy, type, you’ll be happy to hear that there are endless options for water, winter, and summer sports. If you’re more of a social butterfly, we’ve got it all. World-famous restaurants, award-winning breweries, and the country’s best vineyards are all located on the West Coast.
From small, rural towns to major cities like Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle; we have a home for every sensibility.
There is one thing every true West Coaster knows: natural disasters are a part of life.
But we West Coast dwellers don't panic; we view the risks logically, take common-sense steps to be prepared, and then go on enjoying everything the best coast has to offer!
Now that you’re a West Coaster, you’ll soon join the scores of us who are aware and prepared.
Just like other parts of the United States, there are a few risks to living here. Earthquakes, mudslides, and tsunamis are all real possibilities here.
Keep on reading to learn more about what to expect—and how to prepare.
West Coast Earthquake Stats:
- California has the most damaging earthquakes.
- 500 faults are currently active in California.
- 15,700 faults exist in California.
- 30 miles is the average distance most Californians live from an active fault.
- Major faults include the San Andreas Fault, and Hayward Fault in California, the Cascadia Subduction Zone that stretches from British Columbia to Cape Mendocino in California.
- 10 earthquake regions are located in California, six in Washington, and four in Oregon.
- 11 earthquakes have occurred in Washington’s Puget Sound area over the last 114 years.
- 3 significant earthquakes have occurred near Portland, Oregon in the past 150 years.
Other West Coast Dangers
- Wildfires are one of the greatest dangers that the West Coast faces. In 2017, the US Forest Service estimates that over $2 billion was spent combatting wildfires, with over 8.4 million acres of land destroyed.
- Landslides are another potential threat, as they have the potential to be both a cause of other disasters (floods, fires, or volcanic activity like the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens), and an effect of earthquakes
- Floods aren’t uncommon, because most of us live so close to major bodies of water. When a tectonic disturbance occurs, it can cause water levels to change drastically
- Volcanic eruptions are a real possibility on the West Coast, thanks to our location on the Pacific Rim. Of the 17 most active volcanoes in the United States, 10 are in the Pacific Northwest
- Tsunamis are a possibility, though not a common occurrence, along the West Coast
Click here to learn more about the risks in your area. To see the USGS Seismic Hazards Map, click here!
It can seem a little frightening to live on this side of the country, with all the potential for disaster. Yet most of us West Coast lifers couldn’t dream of living anywhere else.
That’s because we know that the benefits of living here far outweigh the risks… if you are prepared.
1) WE PACK AN EMERGENCY BAG
This is the most important thing you can do to prepare for any event. Whether you build it or buy it, every kit must have these five essentials: a portable bag, water purification tablets, a first aid kit, an off-grid light source like a hand-crank flashlight or solar powered light, and a mylar sleeping bag. We also have some awesome resources to help you pick the best items for your earthquake bag, like this guide on where to keep your bag, and this guide on how to get started building your own kit.
2. WE CREATE A FAMILY EMERGENCY PLAN
It’s good to have an earthquake bag, but it’s far more important to know what to do with them! Your plan should be comprehensive and include things like evacuation routes, meeting places, contact cards, and a timeline for who and what to contact.
3. WE PRACTIVE OUR EMERGENCY PLAN
Practicing for an earthquake or other disaster serves a dual purpose: it alleviates some fears and it ensures that, when the Big One does hit, you’re more than ready. Gather your family and community together to practice safety drills for during and after an earthquake. Inspect each other’s homes to make sure everything is earthquake-ready. Get your earthquake bags fully-stocked and in a location that is easy to get to during a real quake. Talk with your family members about what they should do if they aren’t home during a quake. You children may be at school or your spouse in the car on the way home from work. Keep practicing. Earthquakes can happen any time of day! Do some practice runs at different times of day to see what changes you need to make to your emergency plan.
Natural disasters are just that... a natural part of living on planet Earth. The best, and only, thing you can do is to stay educated and prepared.
Now that you’re our neighbor on the coast, we would love to hear more from you!
What are you most excited about for your new home?
What other questions or fears do you have about living here?
Let us know in the comments or leave us a message.