For people living in areas with frequent seismic activity, earthquakes are a constant threat, representing an almost certain “when” rather than an “if.” However, just because you live in an earthquake-prone area doesn’t mean that destruction is simply a foregone conclusion. While you can’t prevent earthquakes from happening, a few simple tips can minimize their impact on your life, keeping you safer along the way. Before you start looking for a new home far from the fault lines, make sure you know these tips for effectively keeping your home safe in an earthquake.
Turn off gas and water mains at the first hint of a quake: Before a full-blown earthquake is underway, it’s time to shut off the gas and water mains in your house. These are generally located in the basement in multi-story homes, but are sometimes located in utility rooms or boiler closets, as well. When you know there’s supposed to be a quake, make sure these are turned off so that your pipes don’t burst, potentially flooding your house or filling it with gas.
Secure your furniture to walls: Attaching furniture to walls is a habit many parents know all too well—it’s one of the first steps many people take when it comes to babyproofing their homes. However, it’s also good practice if you live in an earthquake-prone area. Just a few inexpensive furniture straps, which you simply screw into your walls, can keep your prized possessions—or you—from becoming crushed in the quake.
Have your foundation anchored: If you’re having your house built from the ground up, ask your builder to secure your foundation as deeply as possible. This trick is used in some of the world’s safest luxury buildings, like 181 Fremont, an Orlando Diaz-Azcuy-designed, LEED Platinum certified San Francisco luxury tower that’s anchored 260 feet below street level to bedrock—deeper than any other condominium tower in the city—making it one of the most secure buildings in the world.
Move items away from bookcases or unsecured furniture: Unfortunately, not every item in your home can be secured, and sometimes, even ones that you think are reasonably earthquake-proofed will prove otherwise. To mitigate any potential damage, move items away from your bookcases, which can rain down heavy items during a quake, and keep your valuables far from any unsecured furniture, which has the potential to crush anything delicate.
Cover your windows: One thing people often neglect when they know an earthquake is looming is the safety of their windows. Since earthquakes can shake a home right down to its foundation, it’s always a good idea to cover the windows to the best of your ability to avoid broken glass and potential injuries. Fortunately, there’s an easy, mess-free way to do this: add window cling film to the inside of your windows and, if they do break, at least the pieces will stay together, rather than flying around your home, possibly hurting you or your pets in the process.
While living through an earthquake can be terrifying, it doesn’t have to be deadly. Armed with just a few safety strategies, you and your home can escape those frightening seismic events unscathed.