Securing Your Home in Earthquake Country

Minimizing Risks and Ensuring Safety

Living in an earthquake-prone region can bring a sense of uncertainty to daily life. It’s crucial for all residents in earthquake country to take proactive measures to “earthquake-proof” their homes, providing peace of mind and a safer environment.

While you cannot predict the exact timing or magnitude of earthquakes, preparing for them can significantly reduce risks. It’s important to note that preparedness aims to minimize rather than eliminate potential dangers.

Securing the Interior of Your Home

Research shows that the most significant risk during major earthquakes comes from falling and flying objects. Therefore, the first step for residents should be to make the interior of their homes as earthquake-safe as possible. Here’s how:

  1. Rearrange tall and heavy furniture away from areas where people sleep, sit, or spend a significant amount of time.
  2. Fasten heavy furniture securely to at least two wall studs using flexible earthquake straps.
  3. Shift heavy items on shelves closer to the ground.
  4. Move seats and tables away from large glass windows or consider adding protective plastic window film to reduce shattering risks.
  5. Store glassware inside closed cabinets.
  6. For objects on open shelves, add a “lip edge” to the shelf or use museum putty or velcro to secure them.

Securing Utilities

To ensure the safety of your home’s utilities during an earthquake, follow these guidelines:

  1. Strap your water heater to the wall with two metal braces and use flexible corrugated water connectors.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the location of your gas shut-off valve, know how to turn it off, and keep the correctly sized wrench nearby. Consider an automatic gas shut-off valve if you’re frequently away from home.

Assessing Your Home’s Structure

In addition to securing the interior space, it’s important to evaluate the structural integrity of your home. If your home was built more than two decades ago and you’re unsure about its foundation, consider these steps:

  1. Inspect the perimeter walls in the crawlspace or basement below your house. Seismic strengthening often involves foundation bolting and “cripple wall” bracing.
  2. Hire a licensed engineer to assess your home’s structure and identify areas that require retrofitting. It’s advisable for homeowners to be present during the inspection.

Understanding Moisture and Foundation

Moisture plays a crucial role in affecting a home’s foundation. In regions with high clay content in the soil, such as California, moisture can cause the foundation to move and potentially damage the structure. To mitigate this risk, ensure proper drainage by keeping roof gutters clean and directing rainwater away from the house.

Foundation Bolting

The “sill plate,” or bottom of the walls, should be securely bolted to the foundation using steel anchor plates. These anchors prevent the house from rolling off the foundation during intense shaking. If anchor plates are missing, insufficient, or installed incorrectly, it is advisable to hire a contractor or address the issue promptly if you have the necessary skills.

Bracing Cripple Walls

Cripple walls, which exist between the foundation and the first story of a house, act as shock absorbers during earthquakes. Strengthen them by installing vented plywood or diagonal sheathing along their length. Properly done work will secure the foundation, sill, cripple wall, and floor joists together.

Earthquake-Proof Planning

Alongside securing your home, remember to create a family emergency plan, assemble an earthquake kit with essential supplies, and foster connections with your neighbors.

Earthquake Insurance

Earthquake insurance, just like any insurance policy, functions as a means of transferring risk from you to an insurance company. In California consumers have many options for earthquake insurance. Give Crusberg Decker Insurance a call today to discuss earthquake insurance for your property.

Thank you,

Crusberg Decker Insurance Services, Inc.

(800) 640-1712

[email protected]