California's Dept. of Insurance asks: Are you ready for the big earthquake? (Photos)

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If you lived in Los Angeles in 1994, you're likely never to forget January 17th. That was the day the massive Northridge earthquake jolted the Southland awake at 4:31 a.m., causing 57 deaths, an estimated  8,700 injuries and about $15 billion in property damage.

On this 19th anniversary of the quake, officials at the California Department of Insurance are urging all Californians to consider how to best protect lives and property. 

"The Northridge earthquake was a tragic event that impacted many Californians,” said state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones in a press release. “We must be more prepared for the next big earthquake that scientists say may come at any time."

Among the suggestions from the California Department of Insurance:

1) Consider buying earthquake insurance, especially if your home doesn’t meet building standards or is built on unstable ground.

2) Make sure your water heater is strapped to the wall to keep it from tumbling over and causing water damage or a fire. 

3)  Bolt wood-framed homes to their foundation and mobile homes to their support jacks to keep them from sliding off their supports.

4) Use child-proof latches to keep cupboards from spilling glassware and other contents.

5) Secure tall and heavy objects — like bookcases, TVs and mirrors — with wall studs.  

6) Make sure you and your family members know how to shut off the gas to your home, in case there is a leak that could cause a fire or explosion.  

You can find more earthquake preparedness tips at the California Earthquake Authority.

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