Actions for Managing Earthquake Risk

The Seismological Society of America, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, and Disaster Resistant California endorsed this statement as part of the 100th Anniversary Earthquake Conference in San Francisco in 2006.

Actions for Mitigating Risk: Earthquake Professionals’ Top Ten Actions for Northern California

The people, businesses and government agencies in Northern California risk suffering life, structural and financial losses when major earthquakes strike. Scientists, engineers and emergency management experts gathering for the 100th Anniversary Earthquake Conference call on the region’s citizens, businesses, and policymakers to take the following actions to increase safety, reduce losses, and ensure a speedier recovery from the next major earthquake.

Develop a Culture of Preparedness

  1. Every household, government agency, and business must know the seismic risks of the buildings they occupy, the transportation systems they use, and the utilities that serve them, as well as the actions they can take to protect themselves.
  2. Every household, government agency, and business needs to be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days (72 hours) following a disaster.
  3. Citizens and governments need to take steps to ensure adequate response care for special needs and vulnerable populations.
  4. Government agencies, the region’s major industries, and earthquake professionals have to work together to prepare the region to respond to and recover from major earthquakes. This can be done through region-wide, multi-organizational plans, training, exercises and coordination assessments, as well as continuing improvements in our collective understanding of seismic risks.

Invest in Reducing Losses

  1. Building owners, governments, and the earth science and engineering professions must target potential collapse-hazard buildings for seismic mitigation, through retrofit, reduced occupancy, or reconstruction.
  2. Governments and other relevant agencies must retrofit or replace all facilities essential for emergency response to ensure that they function following earthquakes. These facilities include fire and police stations, emergency communications centers, medical facilities, schools, shelters, and other community- serving facilities.
  3. Governments and other relevant agencies must set priorities and retrofit or replace vulnerable response and community-serving infrastructure, including cellular communications, airports, ports, roads and bridges, transportation, water, dams and levees, sewage and energy supplies, to ensure that functions can be resumed rapidly after earthquakes.

Ensure Resiliency in Recovery

  1. Government agencies, the region’s major industries, and earthquake professionals have to plan collaboratively for the housing, both short- and long-term, of residents displaced by potential fires, large numbers of uninhabitable buildings, and widespread economic and infrastructure disruption following a major earthquake.
  2. Every household, government agency, and business has to assess and plan for financing the likely repair and recovery costs following a major earthquake.
  3. Federal, state and local governments, the insurance industry, and the region’s major industries have to collaborate to ensure adequate post-event funding to provide economic relief to individuals and communities after a major earthquake, when resources are most scarce yet crucial for recovery and reconstruction.

In conclusion, the earthquake professionals of the 100th Anniversary Earthquake Conference believe that, based on our current understanding of the hazards, local planning, stronger building codes, and ongoing mitigation have substantially reduced the potential loss of life and property that a major Northern California earthquake could cause. Many areas are better prepared than ever before, yet the region is still not sufficiently ready for the next major earthquake. The social and economic consequences could prove to be long-lasting and ruinous to communities. With these actions and a renewed emphasis on safety, Northern California can safeguard its extraordinary cultural and economic vitality and rebound quickly following the next major earthquake.