Approximately 24 significant earthquakes, with a magnitude of greater than 3.0, occurred in the United States in 2014, according to information from the U.S. Geological Survey. Eleven of those earthquakes were in California.
Fortunately, officials plan a debut of California’s earthquake early warning system to some schools, fire stations and private companies. After nearly a decade of planning, setbacks and technological breakthroughs, the rollout will be possible due to congressional funding, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The still-developing system, whose prototype was created by the U.S. Geological Survey and universities such as Caltech and UC Berkeley, includes a central processing system that uses a network of nearly 400 ground motion sensors ground. The system can give as much as a minute warning prior to the earthquake in major metropolitan areas, according to the article.
The U.S. Senate approved the $5 million allocation this weekend as part of a $1.1-trillion spending package already passed by the House of Representatives last Thursday.
“The prospect of expanding the system – which is dependent on federal funding coming through – has brought excitement for both emergency officials and some businesses. Even a few seconds’ notice to duck under a sturdy desk could be a matter of surviving a building’s collapse, fire officials said,” (“Earthquake early alert system ready to expand in California,” Los Angeles Times).
Now funded, this system could provide enough warning to literally save lives. If your family is safe there are other things you can do to protect your assets from an earthquake. Retrofitting your home to better withstand an earthquake to lessen the damage and financial strain is one option, but purchasing a comprehensive insurance policy with an earthquake rider should be your top priority.
“In a place like California that has two-thirds of the country’s earthquake risk, homeowners should strongly consider earthquake insurance,” says Frank N. Darras, America’s top insurance lawyer. “It may be costly, but it’s better to have a policy in place before disaster strikes instead of scrambling to cover horrifically expensive damages after the fact.”
Your home is only insured for earthquake damage if you’ve added an endorsement or rider to your homeowners policy or bought a separate earthquake policy. Only seven percent of U.S. homeowners have earthquake insurance, according to a survey by the Insurance Information Institute. However, it’s important for every homeowner to review their current policy and seek the right coverage for damage from natural disasters, Darras says.
“If you live in high-risk area for any kind of natural disaster, talk with your insurance agent about your current coverage,” Darras says. “Many homeowners think they are automatically covered, and it’s heartbreaking when they struggle to rebuild and replace their possessions when they are not covered. Talk to an expert about how to protect your property and valuables when disaster strikes.”