A brand new and potentially lifesaving app called ShakeAlertLA was unveiled on Thursday by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti which will alert Los Angeles residents to earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.0 or greater, which will give them many seconds of warning before the earthquake actually strikes.
As LAist reports, Caltech seismologist Tom Heaton noted that the seconds of warning you will get with this earthquake app “really affect how you react before and during an earthquake.” While ShakeAlertLA will certainly not be telling residents of Los Angeles well ahead of time when a major earthquake will hit, which is an impossibility, it will still alert them to these earthquakes extremely early.
As KPCC’s Arwen Champion-Nicks astutely observed, the seconds of warning that this earthquake app will be giving to residents could easily mean the difference between life and death.
“A few seconds of warning can make a huge difference. It can be the difference between getting out of an elevator because the doors pop open, and being stuck in an elevator for 19 days. It can be the difference between having enough warning to get under your desk so nothing hits you in the head, and getting hit in the head so hard you don’t remember that you have a desk.”
In terms of when the next major earthquake will be striking Los Angeles, Champion-Nicks joked that “the science gives us every reason to believe that a big one is more likely than a 90210 reunion.”
LA's new earthquake alert app will notify users that a quake has been detected seconds before the shaking starts, which could save lives https://t.co/YaInc189Yi
— LAist (@LAist) January 3, 2019
ShakeAlertLA detects earthquakes by observing P-wave energy, which is the first notable energy that takes places when an earthquake occurs. This, in turn, tells the app the location of this energy and earthquake, while also determining just how strong the earthquake will be, after which it alerts all users.
The app was created out of a partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey, the city of Los Angeles, and AT&T, and it is worthwhile noting that in order to have this app work on your phone, you will need to make certain that the location of your phone is always turned on if you want to be sure you will get the alert should a powerful earthquake strike Los Angeles.
The ShakeAlertLA earthquake app is now available for both Android and iPhones and after installing it on your phone you will see a message telling you that you may receive the alert before, during, or after the shaking and to take protective action as soon as you receive the alert.