Is Your Home Prepared for an Earthquake?
If the recent Northern California temblors have you rattled, read our guide here to assess your earthquake readiness and learn how to better prepare your East Bay home for major movement.
Seismic experts say don’t procrastinate when it comes to earthquake prep. Alameda and Contra Costa counties sit on four of the Bay Area’s seven significant fault lines identified by the United States Geological Survey.
Is your home on a fault line?
Earthquake faults running through the East Bay include:
- Hayward Fault: 74 miles long and running through or near Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Castro Valley, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Emeryville, Hayward, Hercules, Oakland, Orinda, Moraga, Piedmont, Pinole, East Richmond, San Leandro, and San Pablo.
- Calaveras Fault: 76 miles long and running through or near Alamo, Danville, Dublin, Pleasanton, San Ramon, and Sunol.
- Concord-Green Valley Fault: 80 miles long and running through or near American Canyon, Benicia, Concord, Fairfield, Martinez, Napa, Pleasant Hill, Vallejo, and Walnut Creek.
- Clayton-Marsh Creek-Greenville Fault: 60 miles long and running though or near Clayton, Concord, and Livermore
Because the USGS can’t predict exactly when one of these faults will experience a major shift, it’s important now to make your home a safe place to ride out an earthquake and its aftermath.
Start your prep by reading these earthquake readiness tips that we compiled from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, PG&E, and California Earthquake Authority websites:
Check and Prep Your Structure
Hopefully your home was checked for earthquake safety before you purchased it or moved in. Things you and a licensed inspector should look for include:
- Is the structure anchored to the foundation?
- How strong are the crawl space walls?
- Does the structure have braced pier-and-post foundations?
- Is there unreinforced masonry? Is the chimney braced?
Strap Down Heavy Hazards Within Your Home
Anything big and bulky can tumble during a tremblor and cause major damage to life and property. Walk through your home and look for hazards that need to be strapped or braced, including:
- Water heaters
- Gas appliances
- Air conditioners
Prevent Smaller Objects from Crashing Down
- Avoid hanging heavy mirrors or pictures on the walls over beds.
- Use museum putty to secure big decorative objects on shelves.
- Use latches to keep cabinet doors from flying open and spilling their contents
Practice Earthquake Drills
- Locate the safest places to “drop, cover, and hold on.” If no shelter is nearby, note the best interior walls (away from windows) to huddle against.
- Do you know where and how to shut off the gas, electricity, and water to your home? Gas leaks from pipe ruptures are the major cause of fires after quakes.
- Does your family have a communications plan? Designate a meeting place in case you are separated. And have the phone number of an out-of-state relative or friend you can call in case local phone lines go down.
Pack an Earthquake Survival Kit
Store your disaster kit in a dry, cool place and make sure everyone in your household knows its location. Suggested items:
- Water – One gallon per person per day for at least three days
- Food – Non-perishable and enough for at least three days
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Can opener
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
- Pet food
- Prescription medications and non-prescription meds such as pain relievers
- Eye glasses or contact lens solution
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, etc.
- Emergency cash
- A list of addresses, phone numbers, and evacuation sites for all places frequented by family members. Include the phone number of an out-of-state contact you all can call in case local lines go down.
- Copies of important documents such as insurance policies
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies
- Extra clothes and sturdy shoes
- Household chlorine bleach to disinfect water
Install an Earthquake Warning App
And, finally, install the new smartphone app MyShake, which delivers ShakeAlerts across California.
The app was created at the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory and works with the California Earthquake Early Warning Program to alert residents the moment researchers detect a quake over magnitude 4.5.
The system relies on ground motion sensors located throughout California to detect tremors before humans can feel them. The alerts will give people a second to tens of seconds to take potentially life-saving action.
Most major cellphone carriers also will send the messages via Wireless Emergency Alerts, which are used for extreme weather, Amber Alerts, and other emergencies.
If you still have questions about whether you and your East Bay home are ready for a rumble, state and federal agencies have a wealth of resources, including this FEMA earthquake safety checklist.
Read More: Your Home Maintenance Checklist
Do you want more information about your home’s earthquake safety, seismic building codes, or need a referral for an inspector? Contact us at 888-400-ABIO (2246) or firstname.lastname@example.org.