Experts worry California earthquake preparedness may have declined

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File photo: Then-US Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne (C) and United States Geological Service (USGS) Seismologist Lucy Jones (L) participate with students of Stevenson Elementary School as they drop, cover and hold on during the region-wide simulation of an expected catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake on the San Andreas Fault during the Great Southern California ShakeOut earthquake drill, the largest earthquake preparedness event in US history, on Nov. 13, 2008 in Burbank.

For all the attention generated by the Haiti and Chile earthquakes, experts in California doubt residents of this quake-prone region are any better prepared for the inevitable Big One, it was reported today.

California saw a rise in quake awareness and retrofitting after the state recorded a series of major temblors over seven years: Whittier in 1987, Loma Prieta in 1989 and Northridge in 1994.

But there hasn't been a devastating temblor in the state since the Northridge quake, and experts are concerned that quake preparedness may have declined in recent years, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A recent survey by the Norman Lear Center at USC found that even those who have received earthquake education are not as prepared as they should be, the newspaper reported.

California has tried to raise awareness of quake dangers by holding an annual drill called the Great California ShakeOut. The first year, in 2008, thousands of participants played out what would happen in the event that a magnitude 7.8 quake struck along the San Andreas fault.

But the USC survey found that the majority of those participants still were not fully prepared for a quake and many have had inaccurate or out-of-date information about what to do in the event of a major temblor, according to The Times.

Many Southern Californians grew up with information that is now outdated. A suggestion to take cover under a doorway, once fairly common, is now considered applicable only to people in adobe structures.

Everyone else should drop, cover and hold on, according to experts quoted by The Times, taking shelter under a sturdy desk or table, and holding on to one of its legs.

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