Is Your Home Ready for an Earthquake?
Preparing an emergency kit is only the first step in preparing yourself for an emergency. While an emergency kit will serve your immediate needs taking steps to prepare your home will reduce risks and minimize damage.
Check your insurance coverage
Many homeowner’s policies do not include coverage for earthquake damage potentially leaving you to cover the hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages created by an earthquake.
It is important that you carefully review your property insurance to determine what would be covered in the event of an earthquake. You may be able to add or upgrade your policy to include coverage if you don’t already have it.
Secure large furniture
Identify and secure large pieces of furniture to the walls. This can include items such as dressers, bookshelves, desks, and even pictures. By securing these items you reduce the risk of them toppling over during prolonged shaking.
Secure large electronics to desks, tables, or walls. Not only are these items expensive to replace, but they are often easy to unbalance and can create hazardous debris in the form of glass and metal.
Strap and secure appliances
Large heavy appliances moving, like your fridge, oven, and water heater, are also potential hazards when it comes to the big one. Most appliances have rollers on their feet to make them easier to move. Make sure to lock these rollers to prevent unnecessary movement.
One step better is to secure appliances to the wall using anti-tipping appliance bracket. You can also secure your water heater using straps, easily located at most hardware stores
Locate all important utility lines/shutoffs
Make sure your family knows where the main shut off valves for your gas, water, and electricity can be found. Shutting of these utilities in the event of an emergency can protect you from hazardous gas leaks, contamination of your water, and fire risks.
For your gas supply, you may be able to upgrade your connections to flexible fittings or breakaway shut-offs. In the event gas is shut off it should only be turned back on by a certified professional.
Reinforce the structure of your home
Many older homes are floating on top of the foundation and not secured properly to withstand earthquakes. Many foundation experts can help with strapping your home to its foundation to help prevent the house from sliding off of the foundation during tremors.
Reinforcing other structural elements of your home can also reduce the risk of severe damage and potential injury. You can add extra support to chimneys and masonry to help prevent collapse.
Check out FEMA’s Earthquake Home Hazard Hunt for more ways to prepare your home.