14 Things Bay Area Folks Can (and Should) Do Right Now to Prepare for an Earthquake

by Guest Author

Those of us who live in the Bay Area understand that a major earthquake could happen at any time. If we want to live here—with the mountains, beaches and great weather—we have to make an uneasy truce with the massive fault lines running beneath our homes. Luckily, while we don’t have to like our rowdy underground neighbors, we can preemptively call the cops on the party. Do these 14 things now and be prepared for a major quake.

  1. Anchor tall bookshelves and other heavy or high furniture to the walls. Be sure to attach the items to the wall studs rather then the drywall.
  2. Do not hang pictures or mirrors over beds or the couch.
  3. Keep heavy objects on lower shelves.
  4. Secure framed pictures, mirrors and other heavy objects to the walls with closed hooks or earthquake putty.
  5. Get professional help to repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections as soon as you notice a problem.
  6. Flexible pipe fittings are more resistant to breakage, so they can help you avoid gas and water leaks.
  7. Strap your water heater, refrigerator, furnace, and gas appliances to wall studs and bolt them to the floor.
  8. Always repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations.
  9. Is your home bolted to your foundation? If not, hire a professional to install anchor bolts and plywood reinforcement walls.
  10. Many chimneys are built of unreinforced brick or stone. Replacing the chimney completely is the safest option, but a professional may suggest ways you can strengthen the existing chimney in the meantime.
  11. Double-check that your gas meter has an automatic safety valve. If it doesn’t, be sure to replace it as soon as possible. Gas leaks lead to fires, which are traditionally a major cause of damage in earthquakes.
  12. Keep flammable or dangerous products such as lighter fluid and pesticides in closed, latched cabinets.
  13. Consider adding earthquake coverage to your homeowners insurance.
  14. Keep your earthquake preparedness kit where you can easily access it should the big one arrive (remember, basements and garages may be more vulnerable to collapse than other parts of the home).

Some of this material was adapted from www.ready.gov/earthquakes