Chances are two out of three that you’ll be at home when the next big earthquake strikes, and one out of three that you’ll be in bed. So, your home’s ability to withstand an earthquake affects not only your pocketbook but also your life and the lives of those who live with you. If you are an owner or even a renter, you can take steps to make your home safer against an earthquake.
But first, you need to make some decisions. Sure, you want to be safe, but how much are you willing to spend to protect your home and family against an earthquake that may not strike while you are living there? Is it your goal that you and those around you walk away from your house without serious injury, or that your house survives the earthquake as well? Deciding would be easier if scientists could tell you when the next earthquake will strike. But they can’t. You might spend a lot of money protecting against an earthquake that might not strike during your lifetime.
This chapter reviews the steps you can take to protect your home, your valuables, and yourself from earthquake shaking, presented in order of importance. The chapter does not consider the damage to your house from liquefaction, landslides, surface rupture, subsidence, or tsunamis. It assumes that the ground on which your house is built will be shaken but not permanently deformed by the earthquake.
It is critical to keep your house from collapsing or from catching on fire, so those preventive steps are presented first. This is followed by a discussion of other, less critical prevention measures. Then you can make the decision about how much protection is enough for you.