Just yesterday, Northern California felt the earth rumble beneath its feet as a 5.5-magnitude earthquake took place about 60 miles off the coast near the small community of Petrolia, according to a report from the U.S. Geological Survey.
The shake-up took place at the day’s brunch hour – precisely 11:44 a.m. on Sunday, May 21. The incident didn’t go unnoticed as nearly a hundred folks, even from as far as the scenic Fort Bragg and picturesque Mendocino, pinged the agency, reporting that they felt the earth’s abrupt shift.
As the earth shook, the California Office of Emergency Services was quick to react. They tweeted out their commitment to coordinate with local, state, and federal authorities to evaluate the impact of Mother Nature’s unexpected dance.
In the realm of the earthquake’s epicenter is Petrolia, a charming, quiet town of just a few hundred residents nestled about 250 miles to the north of the iconic city of San Francisco.
Earlier the same day, a symphony of tremors up to a 4.3 magnitude were felt around the California-Nevada border near Big Pine, putting the USGS on high alert.
The magnitude of an earthquake is a measure of the energy released at the quake’s origin, replacing the outdated Richter scale. Experts at Michigan Tech point out that earthquakes between 2.5 and 5.4 magnitude can often be felt, but they seldom leave behind considerable damage. The more miniature tremors below 2.5 are usually so subtle that most people wouldn’t notice them.
Nonetheless, the spontaneous and rapid tremors of an earthquake can trigger fires, tsunamis, landslides, or even avalanches. While they can strike any part of the globe, the Department of Homeland Security cautions that Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Puerto Rico, and Washington are common hotspots.
Being prepared is crucial when an earthquake hits. To protect yourself, experts suggest the following: If you’re driving, pull over and set your parking brake. If you’re in bed, turn face-down and use your pillow as a helmet. If you’re outside, maintain distance from buildings, but don’t rush inside. If you’re already inside, stay put and avoid doorways.
The most effective protocol during an earthquake?
Drop, cover, and hold on. It’s recommended to drop down on your hands and knees, clutch onto something solid, and, if possible, protect your head and neck with your arms and crawl under a sturdy table.
If no shelter is available, crawl towards an interior wall, steering clear from windows.
As the ground steadies, don’t let your guard down. After-effects like building damage, gas and water leaks, or power line disruption can pose serious threats. Expect aftershocks, and be prepared to ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On’ if you feel one coming.