Making Your Home Earthquake Safe

Making Your Home Earthquake Safe

Jess Watson
Oct 15, 2009

Obviously it's never a bad time to ensure you are prepared for the next big shake, but sometimes an event like the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake is what we need to get us to stop and assess our situation. Whether you own a home or are renting, there are steps you can take to ready yourselves for the inevitable tremor.

FEMA outlines some key preventative steps you can take to protect your home and your family:

  • Repair defective electrical wiring, leaky gas lines, and inflexible utility connections. Get appropriate professional help. Do not work with gas or electrical lines yourself.

  • Bolt down and secure to the wall studs your water heater, refrigerator, furnace, and gas appliances. If recommended by your gas company, have an automatic gas shut-off valve installed that is triggered by strong vibrations.

  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves. Fasten shelves, mirrors, and large picture frames to walls. Brace high and top-heavy objects.

  • Store bottled foods, glass, china, and other breakables on low shelves or in cabinets that fasten shut.

  • Anchor overhead lighting fixtures.

  • Be sure the residence is firmly anchored to its foundation.

  • Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage.

  • Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall. Reinforce this information by moving to these places during each drill.

  • Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover, and hold on!

Also, remember that the likelihood that your whole family will be in the same place at the same time during an earthquake is slim. Make sure to designate a safe place to meet up should communication methods fail.

Here are more links to additional earthquake preparedness resources:
• For kits and supplies for your home, revisit this great post on Earthquake Preparedness
• Information to prepare for major disasters via 72 Hours
• Test to see if you are prepared with the Earthquake Quiz
• How to prepare for an earthquake via

(Image: Michael Macor via

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