Earthquake preparation is a critical part of living in California, especially in certain areas. In the event of an earthquake remember these steps: drop, cover, and hold on. First, drop to the floor to reduce your risk of tripping of falling. Then, take cover under something sturdy, like a desk or table leg. Finally, hold on and protect your head as best as you can. However, it’s not only what you do during the earthquake, it’s what you’ve done before that can really help! Here are six keys fixes that could make a world of difference in the event of an earthquake:
1. Anchor down large furnishings
Anchoring is a great solution for bookcases, large artwork, and other large, heavy furniture take might tip, fall, or shatter. You can find DIY anchoring kits at most home improvement stores and most are very easy to install. Your kit will include metal fasteners and screws that allow furniture to be attached directly to the wall studs. However, don’t DIY everything! If you want to reinforce ceiling fixtures, make sure to call a professional. Only qualified electricians should do any brace or support work involving ceiling fans and lights.
2. Install cabinet safety latches
Experts recommend installing “push open” or “touch” latches that need pressure from the outside to open. Cabinet latches can help to protect any items in storage as your home rides out the earthquake. Additionally, this fix will help to contain any shattered glass or broken items, like dinner plates in your kitchen.
3. Strap down the water heater
Water heaters can become very unstable during earthquakes, and even tip over. You then have a flooded home and the potential for a gas explosion, all on top of the earthquake! You can secure your water heater to the wall using a metal strap kits that you can find at home improvement stores.
4. Apply safety film to windows
Safety film comes either in pre-cut sections or in rolls, and may be self-adhering or may need water to activate the adhesive. Once applied, the film should be virtually invisible with no bubbles or creases. However, some films, even those sold as “clear”, may darken or change the appearance of your glass. You can always consider visiting a showroom or store to view a display before installing. Also keep in mind that installation does require some technique and good squeegee skills!
5. Reinforce cripple walls
If your home has a crawlspace, you’ll have a pretty large project in front of you. Homes that were built on raised foundations or cripple walls could slide off their foundations during an earthquake. A structural retrofit involves securing and bolting the wall frames to the foundation itself. Check out the California Earthquake Authority’s Earthquake Brace + Bolt program!
6. Earthquake Insurance
Do you have earthquake coverage? Many insureds incorrectly assume their Homeowners insurance policy also provides earthquake coverage. In most cases, you’ll need to purchase a separate Earthquake insurance policy. In California, this policy is usually issued by the California Earthquake Authority which you can purchase though your normal insurance agent. The cost can vary drastically, as it all depends on your area’s level of risk. A CEA policy will give you coverage for your dwelling, your personal property, loss of use, and exterior masonry. Additionally, you’ll get coverage for breakables, building code upgrade, and emergency repairs. You can also qualify for a discount if your home or mobile home has been braced or retrofitted!