"We were surprised at how many people in our survey couldn't quite recall the message for what it is you should do during an earthquake," said Johanna Blakley, deputy director, Norman Lear Center, USC. "And that very simply is to drop, cover, and hold onto a large piece of furniture."
Yet even after the Great American ShakeOut, an effort to raise awareness about earthquake preparedness, people's surveys still failed to understand exactly what they need to do to be safe.
"And I think that people just feel that they have to do too much in order to be prepared. And that's the psychological block," said Blakley.
Blakley says that the survey they conducted in one month after the Great American ShakeOut of 2008 suggested a majority of Californians are not prepared for "the big one."
"It's also recommended that you have first-aid materials, that you have hazardous-materials protection and that you have cash in low denominations stored somewhere safe in your house, like in your freezer," said Blakley.
But in fact, Blakely says, there are some very simple things you can do to protect yourself and your family, starting with buying backup supplies of food and water, enough for three days.
Jeff Edlestein, owner of SOS Survival Products in Van Nuys, says though he saw a small spike in business after the earthquake in Chile preparedness just doesn't seem to be a priority for many people in Southern California.
"Unfortunately, it takes a disaster to get people to realize 'I have to get prepared,'" said Edelstein.