Earthquake tool predicts potential effects, could save lives

SEATTLE -- Scientists admit they still cannot predict when the next earthquake will hit, but using a new tool they can predict the potential effects. It's knowledge that could save your life and the lives of your loved ones.

It's a scenario that may not happen in our lifetime but one we should be prepared for all the same -- a massive earthquake along one of Washington's many fault lines.

New analysis by seismologists shows the potential for extensive death and destruction.

"It just makes these possibilities very real to people so they're not terrified but not waving them off either,” Dr. John Vidale said.

You can access the map on the Washington Department of Natural Resources website and find out how your area could be impacted.  Just visit

Among the likely consequences: Massive power outages, water service disruption, bridges could be badly damaged or even collapse.

"The probabilities are low and the implications are big. It's hard to know how to balance the two,” Vidale said.

The King County Department of Emergency Management runs exercises for natural disasters on a regular basis.  They're ready for a significant disaster but they want to make sure we are, too.

Lynn Miller with the Department of Emergency Management said, "Earthquakes in particular come with no notice so that's why it's so important that each of us take measures now to be ready.”

For years experts have said you need supplies to last for three days, but now they warn that's not enough.

"Be prepared for seven or 10 days, or more if you have the resources and space to do so,” Miller said.

Also, keep the lines of communication free. Limit calls to immediate family if you can. It could save lives in danger.

Miller said, "It's really important especially when we've had a major disaster like an earthquake that people know to only use the telephone if you need 911 emergency services.”