Common California Earthquake Myths Busted

By: Timothy McFarlin | Published: April 10th, 2014 | Category: Local Events and Facts

Southern California has had its fair share of earthquakes in the past, including a recent magnitude-5.1 quake centered in La Habra that got people thinking about the “Big One” again. And every time SoCal natives get earthquakes on their mind, they go through a routine of swapping earthquake safety tips while some even get into heated debates over what the best thing to do is.

The fact is a lot of the information that is thrown around is just plain false. No one knows exactly where they came from, but there are many popular misconceptions, or myths, about earthquakes. Although myths are generally harmless, earthquake myths can actually be harmful, for they may mislead people into doing the wrong thing when an emergency arises. Know what’s true and what’s not in order to stay safe when the “Big One,” or something like it, does strike.

Myth #1: The doorway is the safest place during an earthquake.

For some reason, people think that door frames have some exceptional level of structural integrity. The fact is the doorway is just as vulnerable as any part of the house, especially with modern homes. You’re better off hiding under a table.

Myth #2: A succession of large earthquakes will cause California to eventually split from the United States and sink into the ocean.

California is not ready to divorce itself from the US. In fact, the movement of the plates along the San Andreas Fault is causing the lands to compress and converge. Look at a picture of the SA Fault and you’ll see it clearly. Plus, even if California was to somehow physically tear itself apart from the nation, it wouldn’t simply sink into the ocean. The ocean isn’t some infinite abyss, but land with water on top.

Myth #3: Chaos will reign during the “Big One.”

People don’t have much faith in themselves. When we think of the “Big One,” we tend to think of everyone running around like headless chickens, gas pipe explosions, car crashes, and complete chaos in general. However, research shows that most people actually stay calm and tend to themselves and others during and after earthquakes. We’re actually not all that bad.

Myth #4: When the weather’s hot and dry, you know an earthquake’s waiting to happen.

“Earthquake weather” is inherently a flawed concept. There is no certain type of climate that is more conducive to earthquakes than others. The explanation for this myth can be found in people’s tendency to formulate patterns where there are none. The only reason why Californians tie earthquakes to hot and dry weather is, well, because southern California tends to experience hot and dry weather for the large part of the year.

The attorneys at McFarlin LLP hope that you have learned some vital, or at least interesting, information from this blog. Stay safe!

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