Is My House Safe From An Earthquake?
Unlike typhoons and other natural calamities, earthquakes strike suddenly and without warning. Nevertheless, if you live in a high-risk area, planning and preparedness can significantly reduce the chances of injuries, damage to properties, or unduly disruption of your home life. Preparing for earthquakes involves answering the question: is my house safe from an earthquake?
Preparing Your Home
Make your home safer during earthquakes and more resistant to any earthquake damage by evaluating its structure and contents. The design and when the house was built are major factors to consider. The structure you live in may have flaws that make it more vulnerable during earthquakes. Common examples include homes not fully anchored to their foundations or having frail crawl space walls, unbraced pier-and-post support, or unreinforced walls or columns.
If you own your home, find and correct any such defects. You can do it yourself, or you can seek professional help. If you're looking for a place to rent, try asking the owner of the property is earthquake-proof. Ask about what has been done to strengthen the property. Consider this information before deciding where to rent. When building or buying a home, make sure that it complies with the seismic requirements of your local building code.
Any unsecured items in your home can pose more danger than the structure itself. Objects that can move, break, or fall during an earthquake are potential safety hazards and property losses. Examine each room of your home and make a list of items that are susceptible to breakage. Pay particular attention to tall, heavy, or expensive objects such as bookcases, home devices, appliances, and things hanging from walls or ceilings. Secure these items with flexible cords like nylon straps, or you can relocate them away from beds and seating areas, to lower shelves, or cabinets with latched doors. Ensure that plumbers have installed adjustable connectors on all gas appliances.
Creating An Earthquake-proof Home
In earthquake-prone areas, retrofitting is a popular option for homeowners. The retrofitting process generates an earthquake-ready home with sufficient structural support and lots of safety features. Intense earthquakes can cause homes to detach from their foundations, so retrofitting is a wise decision. It is a smart choice, most especially for those living in homes made in the early 1900s.
Homeowners usually tap professionals to complete retrofitting tasks, especially when it comes to reinforcing the foundation. These professionals typically add braces to the foundation to strengthen the connection between it and the house. They also improve the bracing on brick and concrete walls, enhancing their over-all strength.
In preparing for an earthquake, there are also a few things you can do to secure your home. This includes, but not limited to:
- Anchor down your furniture
All large furniture pieces like bookcases and TV stands need anchoring to stay put during an earthquake. Otherwise, these items could fall over, potentially causing further damage and injury. Securing your furniture is both easy and inexpensive. It only requires adding brackets and hardware. Using your basic household tools, you can bolt the brackets at the back of each furniture, then mount it to the wall.
- Mount large electronics
As earthquakes occur, large electronics may have a hard time staying upright. Securely mounting your electronics can protect your equipment and the people who might be impaled during a tremor. Use a high-strength hardware to mount your computer monitors and TVs on a metal arm. Alternatively, install flexible synthetic straps that directly to the tabletop and back of the TV or monitor.
- Secure your water heater
Prevent injuries, water damage, and more, by securing your water heaters. To keep this bulky piece of equipment from toppling over during an earthquake, use a specially designed seismic strap. These straps are made from a much heavier gauge metal compared to a plumbers’ tape. Most hardware stores sell the seismic straps in a kit with all parts already included, making it easy and convenient to complete.
- Latch cabinets and drawers
Safety latches make all the dishes, silverware, and other fragile items in your cabinets and drawers tucked securely inside in an earthquake event. Otherwise, everything could spill out and shatter, creating a dangerous environment for everyone in the household. Latches require only a few screws apiece, so it won't take much of your time to install it.
- Use safety film to cover all glass
During and after an earthquake, the risk of injuries caused by broken pieces of glass will be high. Thus, windows, sliding glass doors, and other glass throughout the home should be secured using a safety film. The safety film can decrease the risk injuries by preventing the glass from shattering into sharp shards. In case the glass does break, it will stay intact, keeping glass shards from landing on the ground and other nearby surfaces.
By following all the necessary steps, you can significantly minimize the risk of harm during an earthquake. Though earthquakes cannot be predicted, what you can do is to ensure that your answer to the question, “Is my house safe from an earthquake?” is a big yes. Take all precautions and have a professional ready to visit and make improvements on your home. Making your home earthquake safe is the best contribution you can give to your family members.
April 9, 2020
by: Wilber Herron
Most of us believe that those who should only fear earthquakes are people residing on or near fault lines. That is not always the case.