Kathleen Tierney: We cannot predict earthquakes in the sense of being able to tell exactly where, exactly when and how big.
That’s Kathleen Tierney of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado. She said that because no one can make predictions about earthquakes far in advance, people in high-risk areas always need to be prepared.
Kathleen Tierney: They can develop household disaster plans where the household plans together what to do if an earthquake were to strike.
Some communities have warning systems. Earthquake-prone Japan developed a national alert system in 2007, which tries to alert the public the moment scientists detect a large tremor. The Japanese system doesn’t just rely on seismology. It also relies on a well-informed population. In other parts of the world, where populations may be more demographically diverse, getting out earthquake-preparedness information can be challenging.
Kathleen Tierney: In terms of different language groups in our society, different ethnic groups, groups that use different types of media.
For now, Tierney advised, people in vulnerable areas should stay vigilant, especially when it’s been a while since the last quake.
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Beth Lebwohl researches, writes and helps produce science content in audio and video formats for EarthSky. She is one of the authors on EarthSky.org, a script-writer for our podcasts, and helps host our English science podcasts in 90-second, 8-minute and 22-minute formats. Beth came to EarthSky in 2006 from the American Museum of Natural History's Department of Astrophysics, where she was surrounded by some of the greatest telescope-building, equation-wielding, code-writing physicists of our time. And they made her think . . . this science thing . . . it's pretty cool.