You probably won’t take all of these steps in making your home safer against earthquakes. Doing everything would be costly and might not increase the value of your home unless it successfully rides out an earthquake. So you might decide to live with some risk.
At least do the following:
- Bolt your house to its foundation.
- Strengthen your cripple wall.
- Install flexible connections on all your gas appliances and make sure the main shut-off valve can be turned off quickly in an emergency.
- Secure your water heater.
- Make sure that large pieces of furniture or large ceiling fixtures won’t collapse on anyone in bed.
This protects you against a catastrophic collapse of your house, and against fire or serious injury. Home retrofit kits are available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the City of Seattle, and the California Office of Emergency Services. With the increasing knowledge about earthquake hazards in the Northwest, some builders now offer their expertise in seismic retrofits. Kits to strap the water heater, fasten cabinets, and anchor heavy furniture are available commercially.
Suggestions for Further Reading
California Office of Emergency Services. An Ounce of Prevention: Strengthening Your Wood Frame House for Earthquake Safety. Video and how-to booklet.
Humboldt Earthquake Information Center. How to survive earthquakes and tsunamis on the north coast. Arcata, CA, Humboldt Earthquake Information Center, Humboldt State University, 23 p.
Lafferty and Associates, Inc. 1989. Earthquake preparedness—for office, home, family and community. P.O. Box 1026, La Canada, CA 91012.
Project Impact. 2002. Home earthquake retrofit series, 3 volumes, available from Federal Emergency Management Agency and City of Seattle.
Seismic Safety Commission (California). 1992. The homeowner’s guide to earthquake safety. 28p.
Sunset Magazine. 1990. Quake—2-part series in October and November 1990 issues, available as reprints (Sunset Quake ’90 Reprints) from Sunset Publishing Company, 80 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025.