SACRAMENTO, CA – Twenty one years ago tomorrow, Southern California residents were jolted awake at 4:30 a.m. by the 6.7 magnitude Northridge Earthquake. This massive quake remains the largest quake in U.S. history causing $44 billion in overall damage and $24.1 billion in insured damages. This 21st anniversary serves as a critical reminder that California is earthquake country and residents should make financial and physical preparation part of a regular routine, says the Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC).
“The Northridge 21st anniversary and the recent 6.0 quake in Napa are a good wakeup call that Californians cannot be complacent when it comes to earthquake preparedness,” said Mark Sektnan, ACIC president. “Earthquakes are a silent economic threat that hangs over California because only 10 percent of homeowners carry earthquake insurance. Too many residents think an earthquake won’t affect them or that the government will somehow provide a bail out. The massive damage to Southern California 21 years ago should not be forgotten and Californians need to remain ever vigilant, assess their risk and consider buying earthquake insurance to protect their homes.”
The Northridge earthquake remains the most expensive quake in U.S. history resulting in 57 deaths and 8,800 injuries. Northridge changed how insurers cover earthquakes in California and led to the creation of the California Earthquake Authority (CEA). Insurance companies are required to offer earthquake insurance to policyholders regularly, but coverage is always available. Private insurers and the CEA offer the coverage.
“Californians should not wait until it is too late. Talk to your agent or company about earthquake insurance,” said Sektnan. “New products are available in the market place that give homeowners more options. A home is the largest asset most people have and it should be protected.”
FEMA offers some tips on how to prepare for an Earthquake: To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
Fasten heavy items such as pictures and mirrors securely to walls and away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit.
Brace overhead light fixtures and top heavy objects.
Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks. Get appropriate professional help. Do not work with gas or electrical lines yourself.
Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage.
Secure your water heater, refrigerator, furnace and gas appliances by strapping them to the wall studs and bolting to the floor. If recommended by your gas company, have an automatic gas shut-off valve installed that is triggered by strong vibrations.
Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
Be sure the residence is firmly anchored to its foundation.
Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches on top and bottom.
Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall. Reinforce this information by moving to these places during each drill.
Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover and hold on.