LOS ANGELES -- When the big one comes, even seconds of warning prior to shaking could save your life. And if you live in Los Angeles County, the ShakeAlertLA app could do just that.
The push alert on the application would read: "EARTHQUAKE, EARTHQUAKE, EXPECT STRONG SHAKING. DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON. PROTECT YOURSELF NOW!"
"We cannot predict earthquakes, but we can tell you an earthquake has started and it's on its way to you," explained Tom Heaton, a Caltech seismologist who helped design the earthquake early warning system.
Aside from potentially saving lives, the app also helps cities stop trains or shutdown gas lines in the event of an earthquake, Heaton said.
Alerts will be sent to your phone about any earthquake 5.0 or higher. The app does not need to be open in order for users to receive the alert. Tips to prepare and recover from an earthquake are also available on the app.
Mayor Eric Garcetti praised the early warning app on Twitter.
The push alert system will be triggered by the U.S. Geological Survey early warning system, ShakeAlert, which has about 400 sensors in Southern California and more in Oregon and Washington.
The Los Angeles City Council in June approved the negotiation of a $300,000 contract with AT&T and the GRYD Foundation for the design, creation and deployment of the Early Earthquake Warning System Mobile Application.
L.A. is the first city in the country to offer an early warning app.
"In the last 10 years, we've seen more and more apps and technology coming out to inform us of catastrophe, but 10 seconds can help and save a gigantic crowd out of the building," said L.A. resident Bing Huang, who downloaded the app on Wednesday.
City News Service contributed to this report.