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Experts Warn Of Public 'Amnesia' Two Decades After Northridge Quake

NORTHRIDGE ( — Medical and seismic experts Friday warned residents of the dangers of not being prepared for major earthquakes at home and at work.

Dr. Stephen Jones and Caltech seismologist expert Kate Hutton addressed the media at Northridge Hospital Medical Center about recent quakes in the region and how residents can prepare for the next major earthquake.

As part of the presentation entitled "Earthquake Amnesia - Are We Prepared?", Jones told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that 20 years after the devastating 1994 quake, a new generation born since then has mostly forgotten the "extreme high risk" for injuries and losses on catastrophic levels from a quake of similar or greater magnitude.

Dr. Stephen Jones

Loss of water, electricity, damaged roadways and lack of communication could leave thousands of residents highly vulnerable without sufficient preparedness, according to Jones, who said it's the responsibility of each person to be self-sufficient and not to rely on emergency responders.

"One of the first things was we saw a lot of injuries from patients coming in who were trying to run or escape or get out of where they were, and a lot of it was people running on broken glass," said Jones. "So one of the first things we say is get a pair of shoes under your bed ready to go."

Jones also recommends having a flashlight near the bed and a first aid kit - including a supply of medications - on hand in the event of an evacuation following a quake.

Large pieces of furniture such as cabinets and hutches should also be bolted to wall studs and not simply attached to the drywall, according to Jones.

Hutton also discussed a program from Caltech along with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to test a statewide Earthquake Early Warning System (EEWS) in the city of Long Beach.

The USGS would need about $16 million annually to implement the Early Warning System along the West Coast, similar to a system already in place in Mexico, according to officials.

Lucy Jones, a government seismologist, says the odds of a Northridge-size or larger quake in the next 30 years is 99.9 percent.

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