Check if Your Home is Earthquake Safe

An earthquake splits a road.

Earthquakes are devastating structurally and mentally. If you live in a city where earthquakes occur, it's best to know if your home is earthquake safe. There are a few things you can do as a homeowner to protect your property.

Earthquake Safety Checklist

There are several things you'll want to know about the history of your house, so you'll know what areas to work on and what you're working with. Make sure to take photos of any areas of concern. The information will be useful if you need to hire a professional contractor for structural issues.

  • Year home was built
  • Builder
  • Shape of home
  • Extensions or additions
  • Depth of exterior walls
  • Gable wall
  • Steel bars in walls
  • Material (wood, brick, concrete)
  • Condition of home
  • Type of foundation
  • Type of soil
  • Unsupported walls
  • Previous earthquake damage

External Home Safety

A crack in the foundation of a home.

External safety is all about the structure of the home. If you don't have information about the safety of your home, or if it is lacking some safety features, you will require the services of a professional.
Steps such as bracing a chimney or walls or improving the security of the home to the foundation are areas that require specialized equipment and expert engineers or contractors.

Personal Safety

A first aid kit on a table.

There are things you can do to help make your home more earthquake-ready. First and foremost, like any state or region that must deal with earthquakes or other types of severe situations, you need to know what the preparedness plan is for your community in the event you must evacuate your home.
Always have an emergency first aid kit as well as other emergency items in one location where they are easily accessible.
Make sure everyone knows how to turn off the power, water, and gas to the home, its escape routes, and the plan for your pets.

Internal Home Safety

A window film is installed.

Anchoring items is an important step for interior safety in the event of an earthquake. Secure appliances such as the refrigerator, stove, washer and dryer, freezer, and water heater to the wall. Use heavy-duty straps to secure each item.

For homes using gas, install a shut-off mechanism to avoid a potentially dangerous situation during an earthquake.

Along with appliances, secure heavy pieces of furniture such as bookcases, China cabinets, filing cabinets, and armoires to the wall. For furniture and appliances such as desk chairs, sofas, and beds, engage the locking mechanism.

Install a layer of safety film on windows, sliding glass doors, and front and rear doors with decorative glass inserts to help prevent glass from becoming airborne and entering the home.

Secure drawers with latches to keep contents inside.

Take care of the things you can do, and call in the experts for things you can't do to protect your home from the shake, rattle, and roll of an earthquake.