Injuries and Traumatic Psychological Exposures Associated with the South Napa Earthquake

Injuries and Traumatic Psychological Exposures Associated with the South Napa Earthquake

On August 24, 2014, at 3:20 a.m., a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck California, with its epicenter in Napa County (1). The earthquake was the largest to affect the San Francisco Bay area in 25 years and caused significant damage in Napa and Solano counties, including widespread power outages, five residential fires, and damage to roadways, waterlines, and 1,600 buildings (2). Two deaths resulted (2). On August 25, Napa County Public Health asked the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) for assistance in assessing postdisaster health effects, including earthquake-related injuries and effects on mental health. On September 23, Solano County Public Health requested similar assistance. A household-level Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) was conducted for these counties in two cities (Napa, 3 weeks after the earthquake, and Vallejo, 6 weeks after the earthquake). Among households reporting injuries, a substantial proportion (48% in Napa and 37% in western Vallejo) reported that the injuries occurred during the cleanup period, suggesting that increased messaging on safety precautions after a disaster might be needed. One fifth of respondents overall (27% in Napa and 9% in western Vallejo) reported one or more traumatic psychological exposures in their households. These findings were used by Napa County Mental Health to guide immediate-term mental health resource allocations and to conduct public training sessions and education campaigns to support persons with mental health risks following the earthquake. In addition, to promote community resilience and future earthquake preparedness, Napa County Public Health subsequently conducted community events on the earthquake anniversary and provided outreach workers with psychological first aid training.

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Attfield KR,  Dobson CB,  Henn JB, , et al. Injuries and Traumatic Psychological Exposures Associated with the South Napa Earthquake — California, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2015:64:975-978.