Study: Southern Californians ill-prepared for inevitable large-scale quake

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Recently built homes are seen in suburban neighborhoods on top of the San Andreas Rift Zone, the system of depressions in the ground between the parallel faults of the San Andreas earthquake fault, May 15, 2008 in the community of Highland, east of San Bernardino, California.

More than half of the Southland's residents have yet to prepare for the inevitable large-scale earthquake expected to hit the region, according to a UCLA study released today.

More than 60 percent of Californians have not done enough to make their homes safer and guard their personal finances in preparation for an inevitable, large-scale earthquake, according to the California Earthquake Preparedness Survey.

Although state and local public safety and emergency management agencies are better prepared than in the past, residents have focused on easy preparedness activities such as collecting supplies and making back-up copies of important documents.

However, they have not done more difficult and expensive activities such as securing the contents of their home or purchasing earthquake insurance, according to the survey.

Key findings of the survey were:

  • Fewer than 20 percent of households have structurally reinforced their homes or had their homes inspected for earthquake resistance;
  • Only 40 percent keep the recommended minimum of three gallons of water stored per person;
  • Fewer than 20 percent of California households have purchased earthquake insurance; and
  • More than 80 percent of households have first aid kits, flashlights and batteries in their house but only 40 percent of Californians have made family disaster plans.

The survey was conducted by the UCLA School of Public Health on behalf of the California Emergency Management Agency, California Seismic Safety Commission and CaliforniaVolunteers to learn how prepared California households are for earthquakes and where they get their information about preparedness.

"The recent earthquakes in Chile and Haiti are unwelcome reminders of the devastating impact earthquakes can have on people and communities," California Emergency Management Agency Secretary Matthew Bettenhausen said.

"It calls attention to the need for Californians to do even more to prepare for the big one. This study confirms that Californians need constant reminders and a steady stream of earthquake preparedness information to motivate people to act. We continue to urge Californians to prepare now."

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