Ask the Expert


Don’t Let Your Guard Down

By Sam DiGiovanna

On Jan. 17, 1994, seconds before 4:31 a.m., there were no immediate foreshocks or warning. Out of nowhere a 6.7 earthquake struck Northridge. Most people felt the shaking for 20 to 30 seconds. The earthquake caused very large ground motions. Areas near the quake zone recorded over 1 g of vertical acceleration. It’s been 20 years and were all at risk and long overdue for another one. And our guard is down.

Now is the time to prepare as this risk grows greater every minute. Here are some suggestions:
Secure all items of furniture. Secure breakables and collectibles. Store emergency tools, including gas shut-off wrench and safety light-sticks.

Prepare emergency supplies (food, water, blankets) and First Aid kits, including prescription medications.
Learn how to turn off gas, water and electricity in case the lines are damaged.

Know the safe spots in every room – under sturdy tables, desks or against inside walls, and know the danger spots – windows, mirrors, hanging objects, fireplaces, tall furniture.

Secure water heaters with two-strap kits.

Create a disaster preparedness plan so that everyone in the family will know what to do in the event of a quake or other emergency.

Decide where your family will reunite if separated and choose an out-of-state friend or relative whom family members can call after an earthquake to report whereabouts and conditions.

These guidelines may reduce the chances of injuries to you and your loved ones and lessen the likelihood of having household contents damaged or destroyed in an earthquake.

For additional earthquake preparedness information contact your local fire department and visit these links: or

Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna works for Glendale’s Verdugo Fire Academy and lives in Aliso Viejo.