Pilots taking off or landing during an earthquake may lose control of their airplanes leading to overrunning the runway or other accidents. Earthquake warning allows controllers to halt airport operations until it is safe.
Bridges have failed during earthquakes, like the Bay Bridge did during Loma Prieta in 1989. With earthquake warning, gates can drop and traffic controls activated to prevent people from entering the bridge until its safety is assessed.
Pipelines rupture during earthquake causing spills that may not be noticed until significant damage has occurred. Shutting a vulnerable pipeline down before a rupture, prevents spills and gives disaster response teams the time to inspect the lines.
Many systems are vulnerable to damage during an earthquake causing spills that create hazardous conditions, potential files, clean up costs, and potential fines. With some warning, feed hoses can be emptied back into tanks, valves shut, and pumps turned off.
Many normal activities can become dangerous during an earthquake. With adequate warning, people can be moved to safe locations to prevent accidents.
Earthquakes can cause power failure, disrupt connections, damage computers, and cause intermittent interruptions which may lead to data loss and corruption. The risk is especially great for long running programs that store most data in memory. A warning can provide time to save data to backup stores and pause processing to avoid losses.
The single largest non-structural cost of an earthquake is from fire following the earthquake. The most significant cause of fires is electrical. Fires can be prevented if the electrical service is turned off. Power can be restored if no damage occurs.
The equipment bay doors of fire stations are often knocked off their rails by earthquakes delaying the arrival of fire equipment and personnel to where they are needed most. With earthquake warning, doors can be opened to prevent door jams.
People working in hazardous environments need time to get away from dangerous materials to avoid exposure and injuries.
Employees can be trained to protect themselves during an earthquake. Earthquake warning makes this training effective by providing the time people need to prepare. The alerts can be placed so that they are easily audible above background noise. They can also be ADA compliant to ensure everyone is warned.
School children regularly practice drop, cover, and hold-on drills. But in an earthquake, they can't react until after the shaking starts. Earthquake warning alerts the classroom before the start of shaking. Earthquake warning makes the skills learned by the children useful.
Elevators can stop in place during earthquakes trapping people inside. They are at little risk of injury but emergency response resources must, nevertheless, be allocated for their rescue. Earthquake warning is used to send the elevator to the nearest floor, open the doors, and lock in place. This frees emergency responders to focus on where they are needed most.
When the serious shaking starts, safeties should already be engaged and the shooters should be in protective positions.
Surgical procedures should be suspended before the shaking begins to prevent errors that could be irreparable.
One of the earliest applications of earthquake warning is reducing the speed of trains to prevent derailment. Trains can slow down 3 mph per second, so even a short warning time is enough to reduce speed to a safe level.
A ruptured water pipe can cause significant damage. Earthquake warning allows water service to be shut off before shaking starts. Afterwards, pipes can be inspected and tested before restoring service.