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

A bulldozer begins to tear down a section of the S

Tim Clary/AFP/Getty Images

A bulldozer begins to tear down a section of the Santa Monica Freeway Jan. 19, 1994 that collapsed during the Northridge earthquake. Commuters were urged to leave for work two hours earlier due to the 300 foot section of the road that was closed.

A fireman (L) atop a house tries to fight an out o

Hal Garb/AFP/Getty Images

A fireman (L) atop a house tries to fight an out of control gas main blaze following a 6.6 earthquake in Southern California Jan. 17, 1994. The earthquake was centered in the San Fernando Valley.

Residents throw water on their homes to prevent fl

Hal Garb/AFP/Getty Images

Residents throw water on their homes to prevent flames from gas main explosions from destroying their houses following a 6.6 earthquake Jan. 17, 1994.

Earthquake victims Jeannie Barnuska (L) husband Fr

Chris Wilkins/AFP/Getty Images

Earthquake victims Jeannie Barnuska (L) husband Frank (C) and son Tyler, 1, eat a free meal Jan. 18, 1994 outside a Red Cross disaster relief center set up at Granada Hills High School. The Barnuska's Northridge home was heavily-damaged in the 6.6 quake Jan. 17.

A National Guardsman stands guard outside the ruin

Tim Clary/AFP/Getty Images

A National Guardsman stands guard outside the ruins of the Northridge Meadows Apartments where 16 people died during the Jan. 17, 1994 earthquake that rocked Southern California.

With help from a friend, Tigran Daniyely

Tim Clary/AFP/Getty Images

With help from a friend, Tigran Daniyelyan (L) carries his television from his apartment complex that was destroyed by the Northridge earthquake on Jan. 17, 1994.

A California National Guard troop stands watch out

Bob Pearson/AFP/Getty Images

A California National Guard troop stands watch outside the Northridge Meadows Apartments, early Jan. 18, 1994 as rescue workers pack up gear. Sixteen people died in the apartment building, which collapsed after an earthquake registering 6.6 on the Richter scale hit the area.


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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