Earthquake Preparedness – Good Advice Wherever You Live
Earthquakes are rarely predictable and not unheard of anywhere in the country. I’ve felt two in the past few years here in Arizona. The USGS, United States Geological Survey estimates that 16 states; Alaska, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming are most likely to experience a significant earthquake in the next 50 years. The USGS earthquake hazard map can be found here on Time.com, and it appears that no state on the USGS map escapes completely. Whether or not you live in a high or low hazard zone, the following tips from Brian Vardiman, owner of Best Service, are wise precautions for home owners to take… cause you just never know.
Secure the water heater – Unsecured water heaters often fall over, rupturing water lines and disconnecting gas lines causing fires and flooding. Secure your water heater with two straps that wrap around the top and bottom of the water tank. Ensure the straps are made of heavy-metal gauge strapping. Many water heaters are currently secured with plumbers’ tape; the thin metal in this strap is too brittle to be effective. If the homeowner is not sure that the water heater is secured with the proper straps and technique, call a professional to inspect it before protection is needed.
Add flexible piping – The rigid pipes used to transfer natural gas, air and water into the home are more susceptible to damage during an earthquake. Flexible piping is made from materials that will absorb vibration created during an earthquake minimizing the danger of cracking or breaking.
Install vibration isolators – The majority of the damage an HVAC unit sustains during an earthquake comes as a result of the shifting that occurs with seismic activity. Providing a buffer that absorbs the vibrations before they cause the unit to shift, is a great way to prevent damage during an earthquake. An expert can retrofit a home’s HVAC system with vibration isolators. These spring-type devices can be installed on the bottom of the unit to absorb movement before it affects the HVAC system’s positioning.
In addition, FEMA offers a handy infographic and has these suggestions to prep your home in advance.
Know how and when to shut off utilities – Something you should have gone over with your home inspector when you bought your home. If not, do it now! Make sure you’ve located all utility shut-offs in advance, and know how to quickly operate them in an emergency.
Secure Bookcases and other top-heavy furniture to walls.
Ensure that all gas appliances have flexible connections.
Install self-latching closures on kitchen cabinets.
Strap down televisions, computer monitors and other heavy electronics.
Double-check that ceiling fans and chandeliers or hanging lights are duly secured.
And one last note of caution: Consider earthquake insurance if you are in any way anticipating damage from an earthquake as it, and other natural disasters are typically excluded from the average homeowners policy. New home buyers should check with their insurance agent to assess their need.