Living in Earthquake Country

Be Informed, Be Prepared

Santa Cruz County is a place of great beauty and scenic diversity that evokes a sense of pride from residents and attracts visitors from around the world. We who live here know how breathtaking the area can be, but like everywhere in California, Santa Cruz County is also earthquake country. Understanding the risks and preparing to survive and recover can help keep you, your family and your community safe.

Staying Safe Where the Earth Shakes: Central Coast Edition

Most people in the Central Coast area live within 15 miles of a fault that can have a damaging earthquake. The most frequent large earthquakes that affect the region occur along the San Andreas Fault. The San Gregorio Fault follows the coast, usually just offshore. Numerous other faults are capable of having moderate magnitude earthquakes (that still cause damage), similar to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which greatly impacted Santa Cruz County.

Life after a Big Quake

Earthquakes may disrupt services like electricity, water, and sewer, and may limit access in and out of the region. Fire and police departments will be dealing with the most serious situations and may be unable to respond quickly to issues in your community. Government assistance may not be available or may not be enough to replace your damaged belongings or repair your home.

Good News: Preparing now will give you confidence that you and your family will stay safe where the earth shakes.

The Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety – A step-by-step guide for staying safe before, during and after an earthquake. The steps have been outlined below.


  1. Secure Your Space – From water heaters to windows, and everything in between, identify hazards and secure moveable items.
  2. Plan to Be Safe – Create a disaster plan and decide how you will communicate in an emergency.
  3. Organize Disaster Supplies Have personal disaster supplies kits at home, at work, and in your vehicle, and have a household disaster supplies kit in an easily accessible location at home.
  4. Minimize Financial Hardship Organize important documents, strengthen your property, and consider insurance.


  1. Drop, Cover, and Hold On - Learn and practice what to do during an earthquake, whether at home, work, school, or traveling.

    OFFICIAL RESCUE TEAMS from the U.S. and other countries who have searched for trapped people in collapsed structures around the world, as well as emergency managers, researchers and school safety advocates, all agree that “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” is the appropriate action to reduce injury and death during earthquakes.
    (Note: Methods like standing in a doorway, running outside and "triangle of life" are considered dangerous and are not recommended.)

  1. Improve Safety – Evacuate if necessary after an earthquake, help the injured, and prevent further injuries or damage.


  1. Reconnect and Recover Restore daily life by reconnecting with others, repairing damage, and rebuilding community.

Resources and Links