Editorial: Northridge anniversary is a good time to plan ahead

As has been widely recalled this week those who lived here at the time, it was 20 years ago, on Jan. 17, 1994, that the Southland was jolted awake at 4:31 a.m. by a 6.7 magnitude earthquake. It was a massively destructive event that claimed the lives of nearly 60 people and injured more than 5,000 others. It even rattled places as far away as Las Vegas.

As it turned out, it also shook city, county and state officials to the very core, resulting in the retrofitting of freeway bridges, the enactment of new building ordinances and enhanced communication systems among first responders in the hopes that catastrophic losses from future such mighty shakers will be lessened.

Public officials, of course, can’t be the only ones to shoulder responsibility for enhanced safety and security in the face of natural disasters. Individuals must take into account their personal needs here in earthquake country. Emergency supplies, especially an ample amount of potable water, simply must be stocked in every household and business. The American Red Cross offers comprehensive lists at www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit.

Property damages sustained as a result of the Northridge earthquake alone were estimated to total about $20 billion. There of course can be no price tag placed on the loss of life caused by the temblor.

On the plus side, we can take pride in the fact we have come far in terms of building laws and, especially with the advent of social media, in the field of communications among emergency personnel since 1994. But we can’t let up our guard, no matter how easy that is to do when there are long stretches without major seismic events. Check your surroundings. Are you prepared?

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