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It’s been over two decades since the Northridge Earthquake and, despite some smaller temblors since then, living in “Earthquake Country” has been somewhat of an abstract notion. Sure, there have been smaller quakes, but television and movies have provided the only real touchstone to the “Big One” for any SoCal resident not old enough to drink. Complacency is a very dangerous thing, and you are well-advised to consider steps toward earthquake preparedness.
Consider taking steps to prepare for a quake. We are all familiar with an earthquake kit: water and non-perishable food for three days, plus a battery-operated radio, flashlight, and extra batteries. Visit the American Red Cross website (www.redcross.org) for a complete list of recommended supplies.
Falling objects cause the majority of injuries during an earthquake. However, using museum wax/putty, anchor bolts and earthquake straps to secure objects within your home will prevent injuries and save lives. Also, California’s state-funded Earthquake Brace and Bolt Program (www.earthquakebracebolt.com) provides grants for retrofitting homes to better withstand earthquakes and tremors. Other mitigation initiatives may also be available within individual communities.
After a quake hits, it is important to have an evacuation plan, including a specific location to gather. The whole family can—and should—participate in creating and practicing the evacuation plan. There are also smartphone apps that are useful in making up a disaster plan.
Remember that damage caused by earthquakes are not covered under standard homeowners or renters insurance policies, so look into purchasing a supplemental policy for earthquake damage. In California, there is the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), a privately funded, publicly managed organization. The CEA coverage limit is the insured value of the home as stated on the companion homeowners insurance policy with a deductible of 10 or 15 percent. Also check to see if your vehicle is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of your auto insurance policy.
As always, check with your insurance professional to see if you have the right coverage to see you through an earthquake or any other natural (or man-made) disaster.