Beyond San Andreas: 5 Scariest Fault Lines in the U.S.

If you saw the Warner Bros. disaster movie, San Andreas, then you know all about the infamous California fault line and its potential for causing chaos. But why does the San Andreas Fault get all the attention in movieland? Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t the only fault system threatening imminent disaster.

Check out these 5 scary seismic zones that are just as nerve-racking as the San Andreas Fault.

1. The Cascadia Subduction Zone

By the time Lewis and Clark arrived on the West Coast in 1805, it had been 105 years since the Cascadia Subduction Zone last ruptured, sending a large portion of the Pacific Ocean roaring toward the coast. The few remaining Native Americans in the area spoke of the earth shaking and ocean rising to consume the land. Many tribes even left the region permanently. However, it wasn’t until the discovery of the Cascadia Fault in the 1960s that modern settlers truly understood the dangers they faced.

Running 680 miles along the Pacific Northwest coastline, the Cascadia Fault directly threatens 3 major metropolitan areas (Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver). With Cascadia capable of producing a magnitude 9.0 or 10.0 earthquake, the Pacific Northwest may soon face shaking (16 times more powerful than San Francisco’s devastating 1906 earthquake) lasting 4 minutes and delivering a mighty tsunami of unimaginable proportions.

2. The New Madrid Seismic Zone

It’s not just the West Coast that needs to watch out for tectonic obliteration. The New Madrid Seismic Zone spans southeastern Missouri, northeastern Arkansas, western Tennessee, western Kentucky, and southern Illinois. It’s the most active earthquake zone east of the Rocky Mountains.

Between 1811 and 1812, this zone experienced some of the largest quakes in history. And although they originated in the Mississippi Valley, they rang church bells in Boston and shook New York City — over 1,000 miles away! Even then-President James Madison and his wife Dolley reportedly felt shaking at the White House.

After one particularly large rupture in the fault, the mighty Mississippi River was forced to run backward for several hours, devastating acres of forest and creating 2 temporary waterfalls. Fortunately the Mississippi Valley was sparsely populated back then. Today millions of people live in densely populated urban areas like St. Louis and Memphis, making this zone one of the biggest concerns for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

3. The Ramapo Seismic Zone

In 1884, Brooklyn was rattled by an earthquake originating near the Ramapo Fault System. Toppling chimneys in New York City and felt as far away as Maine and Virginia, the magnitude 5.2 earthquake was a sudden wake-up call for settlers in the region.

Running through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, the Ramapo has remained quiet for about 200 years. While studies have shown that a quake greater than 5.0 to 5.5 in magnitude is unlikely, urbanization in the tristate region leaves the area extremely vulnerable.

A mid-magnitude earthquake in the right (or worst) place could cause devastating damage. One of the faults in the Ramapo system even crosses New York City around 125th Street. A magnitude 5.0 rupture lasting more than a minute or 2 could cause intense structural damage to numerous Manhattan skyscrapers, most of which are not designed to withstand such tectonic activity.

4. The Hayward Fault

This very unstable fault in California has been threatening the San Francisco Bay Area for generations. It’s capable of producing quakes ranging from 7.0 to 8.0 in magnitude. The last major movement along the Hayward Fault occurred on October 21, 1868, virtually destroying downtown Hayward. In fact, it was considered the “great earthquake” until the San Andreas Fault tore San Francisco apart 38 years later.

Running for nearly 74 miles through cities including Fremont, Hayward, Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond, the Hayward Fault has the potential to wreak more havoc than most California faults. Over 2.4 million people live within close proximity to the fault today, not to mention the key infrastructure developments (including a major public transit system and the Caldecott Tunnel) that run precariously through the fault.

5. The Denali Fault System

If we’re talking sheer magnitude, the largest recorded earthquake on North American soil hit Alaska on November 3, 2002. Starting on the Susitna Glacier Thrust Fault, the rupture raced along the Denali Fault System and continued 220 kilometers until it reached the Totschunda Fault, rattling 70 more kilometers.

The estimated magnitude of this earthquake ranged from 7.0 to 7.9 with a surface wave magnitude of close to 8.5. This almighty quake caused extensive damage to the transportation systems in central Alaska. Multiple landslides and rock avalanches occurred in the Alaska Range and Black Rapids Glacier. This event was literally felt across the nation, even causing waves in pools and lakes in Texas and Louisiana!

Related: Are you living in a natural disaster zone? Find out what you need to know, and how to be prepared for what nature throws your way.

How Hurricanes Get Named [Quiz]

With hurricane season upon us (May 15 to November 30, depending on your region), it’s important for everyone to stay safe and be as prepared as possible.

But have you ever wondered how hurricanes get named? Find out how much you know with this hurricane-naming quiz.

Hurricane tips (even for the pros)

Here are 4 reasons to take every hurricane season seriously.

Is your home protected against heavy rain and floods?

When driving in hurricanes can’t be avoided, make sure you know what to do.

Traveling with Your Dog: 5 Accessories for the Jet-Setting Pet

It’s no mystery why so many people take their canine companions on the road. A Pit would never diss your playlist, a Lab fits so perfectly in the passenger’s seat, and Poms are always down to shop ‘til you drop (as long as you hold them, of course!).

Traveling with your dog can be a treat if your ride’s up to par. Check out 5 car accessories to help make taking Rover on the road easier for both of you.

 1.  Collapsible pet bowls

Sure, you can find anything from an organic wheatgrass smoothie to a heart-stopping triple patty cheeseburger when you’re out and about. But you can’t always count on accommodations for your furry friend, especially if your dog has special dietary needs or champagne taste when it comes to locally-sourced gluten-free kibble.

Traveling doesn’t have to interfere with your pet’s eating habits. Collapsible pet bowls fold down and fit into small compartments so they’re easy to bring along for the ride. Accompany them with a sandwich baggie of that gourmet kibble and a water bottle and you’re set.

2.  An adjustable seat belt

Buckling up is for you and your pup. Ensure car rides with your pet are safe for both of you and drive distraction-free by securing your dog in a seatbelt or seat specially designed to accommodate canine passengers.

Larger dogs can slip into an adjustable harness that attaches to your car’s seat belt, while “look out” car seats give the little guys a cushy raised platform that attaches to the standard safety harness. In addition to the luxury of the platform’s lining, it allows your tiny traveler to see the road, which helps in preventing motion sickness.

3.  A sheepskin mat

Remember, there’s no place like home. Bringing a piece of home with you on the road is key to a dog’s contentment while riding in the car. To add a cozy touch and element of familiarity to your car’s interior, keep a sheepskin mat in your home for your dog to lie on.

It’s easy to roll up and transport. Plus, spreading it on the seat is a simple way to ease any tension your dog may be feeling.

4.  A durable seat cover

Protect your car seat from nail scratches, dusty paws, and ever-present pet hair that clings to clothing in what always seems to be the most contrasting color possible.

If your dog prefers the sights and excitement of riding shotgun, opt for a padded single-seat cover that slips right over your passenger seats with an adjustable hook and loose straps that fasten to fit.

If your pup likes to stretch out in the backseat, a multi-seat hammock covers everything, creating a relaxing environment for your furry passenger.

5.  A compact fan

Traveling with your dog is a breeze with a handy crate fan. Clip it in to a car vent or the back of your seat so your pup stays cool.

Make sure the fan is accompanied by a port and an AC/DC adapter so there’s no need to worry about plugging it in en route. Simply charge at home and you’re good to go!

By tailoring your car to the needs of your furry companion, you’re making each trip together smoother and safer. Does your dog love coming along for the ride? Let us know how you prep your car for your pup in the comments below!

Related links

In addition to accessorizing your ride for your precious cargo, find out what else you can do to keep your critter comfortable in the car.

If your dog is more of a homebody, make sure your place is pet-safe with this simple checklist.

5 Most Dangerous Car Pranks

Oftentimes, I find myself sucked into an endless cycle of online prank videos. Maybe you can relate (because who doesn’t love a good prank?). Before you know it, you’ve watched hours of unsuspecting victims deal with toothpaste-filled Oreos, plastic-wrapped toilet bowls, and dye-switched hair color boxes.

There’s a time and place for pranks, but sometimes it goes too far. And when cars are involved in the tomfoolery, you can end up with physical damage to your car … or worse. Here’s what to do if you’re the victim of one of these car pranks.

The dangers of 5 popular car pranks

1. Stolen tires

If you return to your parking spot and see your car propped up on cinder blocks without tires, you’ll probably panic, thinking your tires were stolen. While that might be the case, this is also a common prank and your mischievous friends might be responsible.

Raising anyone’s car on concrete or cinder blocks requires removing at least one of the vehicle’s tires. If jacking up the car isn’t done appropriately, the car might slide off the blocks. This could happen while it’s being propped up or when the tires are being reattached afterward. Concrete blocks aren’t reliable enough to support the weight of a car. And if the car’s parked on warm asphalt, wet surface, or soil, things can really go awry. Someone could even end up in the hospital. Definitely not worth the risk for a few laughs.

If you’re the victim: If you don’t think anyone was pranking you, call the police immediately. If a friend breaks out of hiding and laughs in your face, punch them immediately. (Just kidding, violence is never the answer.) To properly reattach your tires, follow the steps in your owner’s manual. And if you don’t know a lug nut from a wheel stud, consult a professional mechanic.

2. Broken car window

Staging a smashed car window is another prankster practice. This involves someone accessing your car, rolling down the window, and leaving glass shards under the door and on the seats, making it look like the car window was broken. The guilty party watches the unsuspecting driver freak out, thinking that the window’s broken and something was stolen from the car.

If neither of those things are true, you’ve been pranked. While your so-called friends laugh, you’re left wondering how to clean up the mess. Handling broken glass is very dangerous and should never be taken lightly.

If you’re the victim: Depending on the type of glass, some pieces could be invisible to the naked eye. Wear protective gloves, use tongs or tweezers to pick up large pieces, and apply heavy-duty tape or a wet paper towel to the seats to retrieve the remaining glass. Then figure out who had keys to your car or kick yourself for not locking the door.

(And it’s never a bad idea to make sure you’re covered just in case someone really does break into your car.)

3. Startling noises

Attaching trick exhaust whistles, tying noisy tin cans to the bumper, turning the radio volume way up before the car starts, or simply jumping out from the backseat and yelling “Boo!” — the list goes on. Any noise that might startle the driver can lead to less attention on the road. The driver might swerve, slam on the brakes, or even cause an accident. And scaring someone with a health condition could land them in the hospital.

If you’re the victim: If you’re a particularly jumpy person, you might be an easy target. If alarmed, stay calm, keep both hands on the wheel, and don’t take your eyes off the road. Pull over and turn on your hazard lights while you address the situation and calm down.

4. Egging or bologna-ing

No, it’s not the latest fad diet (gross). Throwing raw eggs at cars is an act loved by neighborhood hooligans everywhere. While it might seem harmless, damage can result from broken eggs. Cracked eggshells exploding on impact can cause surface scratches, the gooey insides can eat away surface paint, and the sun’ll only expedite the damaging process.

Another thing left on cars is bologna. There are mixed reports on whether sitting bologna actually damages car paint or not. Either way, I don’t recommend finding out.

While some might call these “pranks,” vehicle damage could be classified as vandalism. And anyone accused may be subject to legal action.

If you’re the victim: Your friends probably aren’t behind this act (unless your friends are the worst). Call the nonemergency police number to report any acts of vandalism.

5. Smart-car tipping

The typical car weighs between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds. That makes smart cars, weighing less than 2,000 pounds, easy targets for being tipped over. The trend of turning over these lighter cars hit San Francisco, California, in early 2014 and it’s also been reported in Canada and Amsterdam.

This prank puts the prankers themselves in danger. Tilting cars on their side could cause serious injuries. And car damage is likely, from severe scratching and dents to busted windows and torn bumpers. The car might even roll over more than the vandals intend, resulting in more damages.

If you’re the victim: Call the police ASAP. The criminals might still be out there, looking for other tiny cars to topple.

Before jerky friends, neighborhood kids, or full-time pranksters end up causing damage to your car or property, make sure your car is protected. Get a quote from Esurance.

While you’re at it, make sure you’re financially protected as well — here’s how to avoid common insurance scams.



3 Cool Types of Home-Security Tech

In this day and age, the words connected and smart have taken on new connotations. Sure, they still retain their fundamental meanings. But when we talk about things like a connected car or a smart Crock-Pot® (yes, that’s a real thing), we’re talking about how they can sync with our technology and be accessible anytime, anywhere.

So, what does smart home technology look like?

Home automation

One quick search for “home automation” reveals a whole new shopping category — and many online stores have taken full advantage of it.

Home automation includes entertainment systems, energy management, lighting, and even home-security technologies.

What’s available in the high-tech home security aisle?

1. Bluetooth®-enabled dead bolts

We’ve all heard of electric home security systems. But what about Bluetooth-enabled doorknobs? With this technology, all you have to do is keep your smartphone (or a fob) in your pocket and then touch the lock or doorknob (depending on the manufacturer) to open your door.

You can also send electronic key codes to others from your smartphone and choose to use traditional keys as backup. Some versions of these dead bolts even act as surveillance and send your phone a picture of who’s at the door. Goji™ and Kevo are 2 companies currently exploring this technology.

2. Smart smoke detectors

These days, advanced smoke detectors can do much more than simply detect smoke (or carbon monoxide). Essentially, smart smoke detectors can talk to you.

So how does this work? It’s rather futuristic — these smart detectors (like those from Nest or Birdi) use sensors to test the air and then relay their results accordingly. Some even use colors to let you know if they’re functioning properly.

After checking the air for soot concentrations as well as smoke and carbon-monoxide levels, some Wi-Fi enabled smart detectors can send voice and text messages to your phone about issues or emergencies in your home.

3. Connected security camera systems

Arguably the most obvious and useful component of a home security system is surveillance. Today, these extensive systems are designed to let you watch every inch of your home (inside or out) from almost any device.

Wi-Fi enabled wireless security cameras allow you to view your feed using laptops, smartphones, or tablets. Some even sync up with apps so you can watch both saved and live feeds. Other features include night vision, motion-activation that ensures the cameras only operate when necessary, and cameras that allow for 2-way communication. Companies like Insteon®, Arlo™, and Dropcam Pro are currently exploring these technologies.

It really is the future

From price to ease of use, there’s a lot to consider when automating your home. These products are meant to make our lives easier (and safer too), but it’s up to you to decide what works best for your particular needs. So make sure you do your homework.

There’s also plenty to consider when choosing the proper homeowners coverage to protect your home (and yourself). That’s why Esurance uses technology to help make sure you only pay for what’s right for you. Get a personalized quote online today. That’s insurance for the modern world.