Sunday Marks 30th Anniversary of Whittier Narrows Quake

: Students of Stevenson Elementary School 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. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

This Sunday marks the 30th anniversary of the Whittier Narrows earthquake that killed eight people and caused over $700-million dollars in damage.  The CEO of the California Earthquake Authority Glenn Pomeroy says residents should get prepared now, before the next big quake. And that means more than just having some spare supplies in your house. 

"It's very important for people to realize that without a separate earthquake insurance policy, there is absolutely no protection for the damage that an earthquake is going to cause." 

Experts with JPL and the USGS say California has a 99 percent chance of a significant earthquake in the over the next 30 years.  The state regularly holds exercises in which residents practice what to do in the event of a major quake. Later this month on Oct 19th, California has scheduled the largest earthquake drill in the country.  Over ten-million residents in the state participated in the drill last year.

Residents can easily protect themselves from injury in a quake by making sure they've secured items on walls and shelves, as well as making sure they're familiar with what to do when the shaking begins.  "Drop to the ground, cover your head, and hold on. It's the drop, cover and hold exercise," Pomeroy says. 

Thirty years ago, residents were told to run under door frames for safety, which actually increased risk. 

"That was really bad advice. Because when the ground starts to shake, and if you get up run - to any destination - even just the door frame. You're just putting yourself in harm's way."

Instead, experts say you drop to the ground and take cover by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture and hold on until the shaking stops. If there aren't any tables or chairs nearby, authorities say you should cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building. 

People should stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall on you, such as lighting fixtures or furniture. 

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