Prepare for Seismic Hazards & Other Emergencies

Prepare for Seismic Hazards & Other Emergencies

The City of Palo Alto extends its greatest sympathies to all affected by the recent significant earthquakes in Southern California. This natural disaster is a reminder of how important it is to be prepared for an emergency at any time, and that seismic hazards should be part of everyone's personal and organizational emergency preparedness planning.

Hazards exist throughout the world and Palo Alto is no exception. While we cannot prevent all hazards from occurring, we can be aware and prepare for them to minimize their impacts on our lives. No matter what happens, we recommend that you stay informedmake a planbuild a kit, and get involved.

Threats and hazards have been categorized as Natural, Technological, and Human-Caused. The City of Palo Alto is one of the few Bay Area municipal governments to complete a Threat and Hazard Identification Risk Assessment (THIRA). See

The THIRA lists some of the anticipated consequences of a major quake in our area, including:

  • Severe damage to homes, businesses, government buildings, utilities, roads, and other critical infrastructure;
  • Fires burning out of control;
  • City staff and other employees of essential services, such as hospitals and schools, are unable to come to work.

It might be tempting to look at Ridgecrest and hope that Palo Alto will be as fortunate to avoid deaths or severe injuries in the event of a major earthquake. The reality is that due to our location in the San Francisco Bay Area, proximity to major earthquake faults, plus age and density of our infrastructure and buildings, the impacts are likely to be much more severe. The Ridgecrest area is much smaller and less dense than Palo Alto, and most of its buildings and infrastructure are more modern.

We encourage all members of our community to take steps and get prepared at a personal level; for your family, your neighborhood, and the organizations you are a part of, such as schools, faith communities, and the workplace. Please take a moment to review the City's resources for emergency preparedness:

Thank you for your efforts to prepare for hazards and be part of the community solution.

Last Updated: July 17, 2019