Top Natural Disaster Risks in California

Living in California, you’re used to sunny skies and perfect weather, but that does not mean you are immune to natural disasters. Some of the most common natural disasters experienced in California include earthquakes and wildfires. California is located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, with 15,000 earthquake faults running throughout the state – many of which are active. Because of the dry, windy climate, the state is also susceptible to wildfires which can quickly become out of control and cause significant damage to homes and businesses. Although these are not the only natural disasters, they are the most common ones that can pave the way for additional environmental emergencies.

Earthquakes in California 

Earthquakes occur throughout the state, and can cause quite a bit of damage. Although much of the state’s buildings and infrastructure are built to withstand even the strongest of earthquakes, there is still damage that can occur, such as broken water lines, downed power lines, disrupted gas lines, cracked roads, and more. In the event that a water line breaks in or around your property, there can be significant flooding in your home or building. Likewise, when power lines go down they become a hazard for people and animals nearby, and can also spark wildfires or structural fires. If they block the road they can prevent emergency personnel from responding to the scene and providing aid. Gas lines being damaged pose further risk of fire, and also expose people and animals to harmful fumes that could be damaging to general health.

Earthquakes can be very dangerous and can quickly become fatal, and knowing what to do can save your life. During an earthquake, if you are in a building, it’s crucial that you shelter in place – do not run outside, and stay away from exterior walls and windows. If you are outside, stay away from buildings, trees, and power lines. Likewise, if you are in a vehicle you must stop driving and pull over away from any large buildings, bridges, or overpasses.

Wildfire Risks in California

The second most common natural disaster in California are wildfires. According to the Cal Fire Department, there were 7,127 wildfires in 2023 alone. The dry, hot climate of California paired with the Santa Ana winds that are seen throughout the peak heat of the year create the perfect breeding ground for wildfires. At the same time, as California becomes more populated, there is an increasing risk in man-made wildfires – set both intentionally and unintentionally.

Wildfires can move fast, and even though California has some of the best trained firefighters in the country, Mother Nature has a mind of her own, making emergency preparation for wildfires an essential for all residents, and visitors. Although the fire department works to prevent structures from being affected, if a wildfire is burning near or towards your home, you’ll need to be ready to evacuate on a moment’s notice. 

As soon as you get news of a fire near your property, pack up your essentials, including any important documents, medications, or heirlooms. Have an evacuation plan in place for your entire family, including any pets you may have. Know all exit routes from your home, and keep an eye on updates from law enforcement and fire officials. It’s always better to be safe than sorry – your home can be restored but your life cannot.

Fires Pave the Way for Landslides

Although you may think of droughts when you think of California, the state is still prone to getting significant amounts of rain throughout the winter and spring seasons. In areas that have recently experienced wildfires, the vegetation across the landscape has been eliminated, giving the earth nothing to cling to in the absence of roots and plants to soak up the water. This results in a high landslide risk for the area. Landslides and mudslides can happen in an instant, and are capable of picking up and moving an entire house – foundation and all. If you live in an area where the landscape has recently been stripped by a wildfire or other natural disaster, it’s critical that you remain on alert for landslides and invest in infrastructure to prevent damage to your life and property.

Flooding Happens in an Instant

As the global climate changes, storms and natural disasters are becoming more extreme. The California Department of Water Resources has recorded at least one significant flood in all 58 California counties within the last 25 years. Whether they are caused by heavy rainfall or tropical storms on the coast, flooding can cause millions of dollars in damage and can become fatal very quickly. The first rule of thumb with flooding is “turn around, don’t drown.” You may have heard the saying growing up, but it rings true to this day. Flood waters may not seem like they are too deep or moving very fast, but they can sweep you, your home, and your vehicle away in an instant.

Many areas that are prone to flooding have put in infrastructure to prevent damage and loss of life, such as the permanent road closure gates in place to block off low points near the San Diego River. These gates allow emergency responders to quickly block off the road and prevent anyone from entering that area during high risk flood times.

Flash floods are also a major risk in California, and can occur even if it’s not raining in your location. Flash floods are commonly seen in low points such as “dry” riverbeds at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains. To avoid being harmed by flash floods, it’s best to stay out of those lower drainage points, even if they seem dry.

Be Prepared for Anything

The most important part of any emergency preparedness plan is protecting yourself, your family, and your pets. Like we mentioned, your home can be restored and your possessions can be replaced – but your family is invaluable. Be prepared to evacuate in an instant, and have an emergency plan in place. Practice earthquake drills, fire drills, and flood preparedness drills with your entire family regularly. If you have little ones in your family it’s important to have them prepared so there’s no panicking in the event of a natural disaster. 

Have a home or commercial building that has been affected by fire, flooding, earthquakes, or another natural disaster? Connect with the S&S Restoration team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We specialize in rapid response for reliable results. 

About S&S Restoration

S&S Restoration is a Temecula, California restoration company that specializes in both residential and commercial buildings affected by fire, flooding, mold, and storms. We proudly serve the Inland Empire, San Diego, High Desert, and San Bernardino County areas. Give us a call at (800) 608-8447 or visit our website at, we’re available 24/7 for emergency response to guarantee the best outcomes.

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