Mexico earthquake yet another reminder for Bay Area to be prepared

MENLO PARK, Calif. (KGO) -- As more heartbreaking images come out of southern Mexico following a deadly magnitude 8.1 earthquake, scientists say it serves as a wake-up call for Bay Area residents.

Dozens of people have died, but experts say the overall number could have been much worse had it not been for Mexico's early warning system. The U.S currently does not have an earthquake alert system in place, but seismologists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), as well as UC Berkeley are working together to develop one for California.

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"We're hopeful that in the next year or two, its use is going to become much more widespread as the system is tested thoroughly and there's more confidence in its everyday use," said USGS geologist David Schwartz.

Schwartz, who works at the USGS Earthquake Science Center in Menlo Park, says residents will eventually be notified of any earthquakes through smartphones, much like an Amber Alert.

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Geologists believe it's unlikely we'll experience a magnitude 8.0 or above earthquake in the Bay Area, but the damage caused from a strong event could still be significant.

"Faults like the Hayward, the Rogers Creek, they're shorter, they'll produce smaller earthquakes, high sixes, low sevens, those will still be damaging," Schwartz said.

RELATED: At least 60 dead, over 200 injured after earthquake rocks Mexico

Experts say you should keep an emergency kit inside the trunk of your vehicle, packed with the essentials, as well as backups of your medications, just in case a natural disaster strikes. The logic behind this is that most Californians spend a lot time away from home.

"(Pack) your own toiletries, a blanket for each family member, and if you have children or pets with you, you'll need to prepare special items for them for their comfort," says San Jose State University professor and emergency preparedness expert Frances Edwards

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