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Community Corner - Getting Californians Prepared
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The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) and the American Red Cross have joined forces to help more people prepare to survive and recover from California's next damaging earthquake, and to support a unique online auction that benefits local Red Cross preparedness and response programs.

April 4 marked the opening of this new statewide auction to support the American Red Cross and promoted through the CEA's earthquake preparedness campaign. From now through April 27, Californians have the opportunity to bid on 28 unique auction items and every dollar donated through the auction will support American Red Cross preparedness and response programs in California. Auction details are available at

This joint preparedness effort by the CEA and the Red Cross was partially prompted by a UCLA School of Public Health and Survey Research Center study that reported in 2010 that "relatively few (California) households have acted to mitigate losses and reduce injuries" resulting from earthquakes.

California has about two-thirds of the nation's earthquake risk. Some 2,000 known faults crisscross the state, producing an average of 102 earthquakes a day - more than 37,000 a year.

According to the 2010 State of California Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan, strong earthquakes of Magnitude 6 to 6.9 strike California an average of once every two to three years. An earthquake this size can cause major damage if the epicenter is near a densely populated area. The 1994 Northridge earthquake (magnitude 6.7) caused more than $40 billion in disaster losses, 57 deaths, and 11,846 injuries.

Here are some steps to prepare to survive and recover from California's next damaging earthquake:

Get a kit: Keep basic supplies in an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you in case you must evacuate.

Make a plan: Identify out-of-area emergency contacts. Decide where to reunite with loved ones after a disaster in case phone lines are down. Write your plan on an emergency contact card and store in your phone along with important numbers for emergency resources in your area.

Be informed: Discuss how to prepare and safely respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, work and play. Learn how notification systems in your area will work.

Consider earthquake insurance: Most residential insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage - a separate earthquake policy is required. Without earthquake insurance to help cover the costs of repairs and other expenses that come with catastrophic damage, you will pay out-of-pocket to fix your home, to replace your personal property, and to live and eat elsewhere.

Secure your home's structure and contents: Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation. Bolt and brace water heaters, gas appliances, bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs. Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sleep or sit. Brace overhead light fixtures. Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets - store heavy items closest to floor.

Practice how to drop, cover and hold on: During an earthquake, know how to drop to the ground, take cover under sturdy furniture, and hold on to that furniture until after the shaking stops.

Just 12 percent of California's homeowners with fire insurance, however, also have a separate earthquake insurance policy. Visit for more information about the California Earthquake Authority.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization, not a government agency, and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit or contact your local chapter.

D'Anne Ousley is the media liaison for the California Earthquake Authority, a publicly managed, privately funded organization that provides catastrophic residential earthquake insurance and encourages Californians to reduce their risk of earthquake loss. It is governed by a board that consists of California's Governor, State Treasurer, and Insurance Commissioner.