We hope we will never feel the “earth move under our feet or our house come tumblin down.” That said, an earthquake is one of those events in the northwest that everyone knows will happen sometime, but no one knows when. So it’s best to proactively prepare for the disaster that will come unexpectedly. Here are some tips to consider.
Appliances and other large objects should be anchored to prevent movement or tipping over. Make sure your hot water tank is properly secured with strapping to the wall studs. The furnace should be bolted to the floor. The refrigerator and range should be secured to the wall.
If your home has natural gas service, there are a few ways of reducing natural gas leaks that could be a fire hazard in the event of an earthquake. Make sure your gas appliances are properly anchored, and have flexible pipe connections. The same safety measures apply to those in rural areas who use propane for appliances.
Make sure you know where your gas meter location is, and have a wrench next to the meter so you can turn the manual valve to the off position in the event you smell gas leaking after an earthquake. A better solution is to install an earthquake actuated valve to the gas meter. This valve shuts the gas off when it senses the shaking of an earthquake. This way it will be safely shut off even if no one is present.
There have been many earthquake safety improvements to home design over the years such as bolts and straps to home foundations, the use of framing anchors and hold downs to joists and studs, and the building of shear walls to improve stability from side to side movement. If your home is more than 50 years’ old, it may not have been constructed with seismically safe techniques. It would be advisable to have a qualified contractor or engineer determine if your home is built for earthquake safety. If it is not, it would be a good idea to have your home seismically retrofitted to current standards.
In the event of an earthquake, it’s a good idea to have a disaster supply kit in an accessible location. Your kit should include a fire extinguisher, a flashlight with a separate pack of batteries, a solar powered charger for your mobile device (ipod, android etc.), cash, a first aid kit, non perishable food, water, and a box of wine. (Bottled wine might break.) So when Carol King sings, “I feel the earth move under my feet,” don’t assume that she is talking about an emotional experience about physical attraction and taming your emotions. She just wants you to earthquake retrofit your home.
Being prepared for an earthquake, or any disaster, will bring more peace of mind to the rest of your day-to-day life.