IBHS Offers Earthquake Prep Advice Following 4 Events

June 20, 2005

Four significant earthquakes have rattled California up and down the coast in just one week. While there have been no reports of serious damage so far, the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) offers these tips to people living in any region with a seismic threat:

Secure items inside:
* Anchor bookcases and filing cabinets to nearby walls.
* Install latches on drawers and cabinet doors to keep contents from
* Install ledge barriers on shelves, place heavy items on lower shelves, and secure large, heavy items and breakables directly to shelves to keep them from falling.
* Securely attach pictures and mirrors to walls using closed screw-eyes and wire.
* Attach computers and small appliances to desks, tables or countertops.
* Secure ceiling lights, suspended ceilings and other hanging items such as chandeliers and plants to the permanent structure.
* Apply safety film to windows and glass doors.
* Anchor large appliances to walls using safety cables or straps.
* Lock the rollers of any large appliances or pieces of furniture.
* Secure water heater(s) to nearby walls.
* Fit all gas appliances with flexible connections and/or a breakaway gas shut-off device, or install a main gas shut-off device. (Check your local building codes to determine whether you may install flexible connectors yourself or whether a professional must install them.)

Structural considerations:
An earthquake puts a structure to the test, forcing it to absorb the
jolt’s energy and provide a stable path to transfer these forces back into the ground. A building is more likely to pass this test when it is properly tied together. That is, when the roof is attached tightly to the walls, the walls are fastened to each other and, finally, when the walls are braced and anchored to a strong foundation.

If you are concerned about structural integrity, you should be aware that recommendations for strengthening are very much building and site specific. It is probably best to get a design professional with expertise in earthquake resistance to review your property and provide you with specific recommendations for cost effective measures that can be taken.

Some of the most common retrofits include:
* Adding anchor bolts or steel plates between your home and its foundation.
* Bracing the inside of your home’s cripple wall — the short wood-stud wall between the top of the foundation and the first floor — with sheathing.
* Bracing unreinforced chimneys, masonry and concrete walls and foundations.

For more, visit the Earthquake section of the IBHS Web site
http://www.disastersafety.org . Information is also available from the
Insurance Information Network of California at http://www.iinc.org .

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