• NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
• SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Earthquakes strike without warning, so now is the time to get prepared. You should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days (72 hours) following an earthquake. The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services recommends the following items be included in your emergency earthquake kit:
Food. Enough for 72 hours, preferably one week.
Water. Enough so each person has a gallon a day for 72 hours, preferably one week. Store in airtight containers and replace every six months. Store disinfectants such as iodine tablets or chlorine bleach, eight drops per gallon, to purify water if necessary.
First Aid Kit. Make sure it's well stocked, especially with bandages and disinfectant.
Fire extinguishers. Your fire extinguisher should be suitable for all types of fires. Teach family members how to use it.
Flashlights with extra batteries. Keep flashlights besides your bed and in several other locations. DO NOT use matches or candles after an earthquake until you are certain there are no gas leaks.
Portable radio with extra batteries. Most telephones will be out of order or limited to emergency use. The radio will be your best source of information.
Extra blankets, clothing, shoes, and money.
Alternate cooking sources. Store a barbecue or camping stove for outdoor camping. CAUTION: Ensure there are no gas leaks before you use any kind of fire as cooking source and do not use charcoal indoors.
Special items. Have at least a week's supply of medications and food for infants and those with special needs. Don't forget pet food.
Tools. Have an adjustable or pipe wrench for turning off gas and water. Know where your gas meter is located before an emergency occurs
For more detailed information select this link: EARTHQUAKE INFORMATION
Identify potential hazards in your home and begin to fix them.
Earthquake safety is more than minimizing damage to buildings. We must also secure the contents of our buildings to reduce the risk to our lives and our pocketbooks.
Secure building contents: Four people died in the Northridge earthquake because of unsecured building contents such as toppling bookcases. Many billions of dollars were lost due to this type of damage.
Fix problems in older buildings: The best building codes in the world do nothing for buildings built before that code was enacted. While the codes have been updated, the older buildings are still in place. Fixing problems in older buildings —retrofitting— is the responsibility of the building's owner.
You should secure anything: 1) heavy enough to hurt you if it falls on you, or 2) fragile and/or expensive enough to be a significant loss if it falls. In addition to contents within your living space, also secure items in other areas, such as your garage,to reduce damage to vehicles or hazardous material spills.
Move furniture: Move furniture such as bookcases away from beds, sofas, or other places where people sit or sleep. Move heavy objects to lower shelves. Then begin to look for other items in your home that may be hazardous in an earthquake.
Some of the actions recommended on this page may take a bit longer to complete, but all are relatively simple. Most hardware stores and home centers now carry earthquake safety straps, fasteners, and adhesives.
In the kitchen: Unsecured cabinet doors fly open during earthquakes, allowing glassware and dishes to crash to the floor. Many types of latches are available to prevent this: child-proof latches, hook and eye latches, or positive catch latches designed for boats. Gas appliances should have flexible connectors to reduce the risk of fire. Secure refrigerators and other major appliances to walls using earthquake appliance straps.
Electronics: Televisions, stereos, computers and microwaves and other electronics are heavy and costly to replace. They can be secured with flexible nylon straps and buckles for easy removal and relocation.
Objects on open shelves and tabletops: Collectibles, pottery objects, and lamps can become deadly projectiles. Use either hook and loop fasteners on the table and object, or non-damaging adhesives such as earthquake putty, clear quake gel, or microcrystalline wax to secure breakables in place. Move heavy items and breakables to lower shelves.
Hanging objects: Mirrors, framed pictures, and other objects should be hung from closed hooks so that they can’t bounce off the walls. Pictures and mirrors can also be secured at their corners with earthquake putty. Only soft art such as tapestries should be placed over beds or sofas.
Furniture: Secure the tops of all top-heavy furniture, such as bookcases and file cabinets, to a wall. Be sure to anchor to the stud, and not just to the drywall. Flexible fasteners such as nylon straps allow tall objects to sway without falling over, reducing the strain on the studs. Loose shelving can also be secured by applying earthquake putty on each corner bracket.
Water heater: Unsecured water heaters often fall over, rupturing rigid water and gas connections. If your water heater does not have two straps around it that are screwed into the studs or masonry of the wall, then it is not properly braced. This illustration shows one method of bracing a water heater. Bracing kits are available that make this process simple. Have a plumber install flexible (corrugated) copper water connectors, if not already done.
In the garage or utility room: Items stored in garages and utility rooms can fall, causing injuries, damage, and hazardous spills or leaks. They can also block access to vehicles and exits. Move flammable or hazardous materials to lower shelves or the floor.
Identify your building's potential weaknesses and begin to fix them.
Buildings are designed to withstand the downward pull of gravity, yet earthquakes shake a building in all directions – up and down, but most of all, sideways. There are several common issues that can limit a building's ability to withstand this sideways shaking.
Common building problems
Most houses are not as safe as they could be. The following presents some common structural problems and how to recognize them. Once you determine if your building has one or more of these problems, prioritize how and when to fix them, and get started.
Inadequate foundations. Look under your house at your foundation. If the foundation is damaged or built in the “pier and post” style, consult a contractor or engineer about replacing it with a continuous perimeter foundation. Look for bolts in the mudsills. They should be no more than 1.8 meters (6 feet) apart in a single story and 1.2 meters (4 feet) apart in a multistory building. Adding bolts to unsecured houses is one of the most important steps toward earthquake safety. This can be done by a contractor or by someone skilled at home maintenance.
Unbraced cripple walls. Homes with a crawl space should have panels of plywood connecting the studs of the short "cripple" walls (see figure). You or a contractor can strengthen the cripple walls relatively inexpensively.
Soft first stories. Look for larger openings in the lower floor, such as a garage door or a hillside house built on stilts. Consult a professional to determine if your building is adequately braced.
For those who rent
As a renter, you have less control over the structural integrity of your building, but you do control which apartment or house you rent:
Structures made of unreinforced brick or block walls can collapse and cause great loss of life.
Apartment buildings with "tuck-under" parking space openings can also collapse.
Foundation and cripple wall failures can cause expensive damage but less loss of life.
Objects attached to the sides of buildings, such as staircases, balconies, and decorations, can break off in earthquakes.
Ask the landlord these questions:
What retrofitting has been done on this building?
Have the water heaters been strapped to the wall studs?
Can I secure furniture to the walls?
Unreinforced masonry. All masonry (brick or block walls) should be reinforced. Some communities have a program for retrofitting buildings made of unreinforced masonry. If your house has masonry as a structural element consult a structural engineer to find what can be done. Inadequately braced chimneys are a more common problem. Consult a professional to determine if your chimney is safe.
If you live in a mobile home:
Look under your home. If you only see a metal or wood “skirt” on the outside with concrete blocks or steel tripods or jacks supporting your home, you need to have an “engineered tie-down system” or an “earthquake-resistant bracing system” (ERBS) installed. An ERBS should have a label on the bracing that says, “Complies with the California Administrative Code, Title 25, Chapter 2, Article 7.5.”