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Check Your Home for Weak Areas or Those Needing Repair Particularly if the home is older
The newer your home, the more potential there is that it’s up to code and extra steps were taken to help insure that it will keep you safe during a quake. Checking with the local building code department is a good place to start. They often have information on the requirements necessary to increase the safety of your home during an earthquake. In many cases, you can check to see if these additional steps have been taken in your home or whether you need to consult a structural engineer for additional help.
1 Insure your home is safe.
One of the potential changes has to do with the foundation and anchoring the home. Check the basement or crawl space to see whether you have sill plates and steel anchor plates to tie together. The edge of the sill plate would tie to the foundation edge for more reinforcement. While you can do the job yourself, hiring a professional can help insure that it’s done properly and provide more peace of mind.
Houses built on slabs will have cripple walls too. Those are the little partial walls that are less than a story in height. They’re normally between the first floor of the home and the foundation. These are often weaker, but affect the entire strength of the home. Use plywood and other materials your local code recommends to brace these areas.
2 Look for danger from surrounding elements.
Large older trees near the home can fall and damage both the exterior and foundation of your home. Power lines are another potential area for damage. Scan the area around your home and take action. If you have an older tree that is weak or dying, consider removing it. Otherwise, remove any branches hanging over the top of the home. Reinforcing the ceiling, foundation and roof can also help prevent additional damage if lines or surrounding trees fall.
3 Look for areas that need repair.
Chimneys are often neglected but can collapse, causing additional damage. Make sure yours is braced with a steel collar, adding extra reinforcement to the ceiling surrounding the area as an extra precaution. Check for roofing repairs that could compromise its strength and integrity. Do all repairs necessary to insure your home is structurally safe. Gas connections and electrical wiring should also be inspected.
4 Make sure you’re prepared for the worst.
Everyone in the house should know how to turn off water, gas and electric. You should also have several stockpiles of food and water in different locations of the house. Practice earthquake drills and the drop, cover and hold method during a quake.
Sometimes it’s just not enough.
No matter how much you’ve practiced or earthquake proofed your home, it may not be enough to save it. Having a second location available, several routes to take there and a plan to help you decide when to leave or stay can be the answer to your survival. While there are only two areas capable of a 9.0 earthquake, the Pacific Northwest (Cascadia Subduction Zone) and Alaska (the Aleutian Fault), that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a backup location if you live elsewhere.
If a 9.0 earthquake occurs, don’t even consider escaping by water if it’s from movement in the Cascadia Subduction Zone. A powerful tsunami could potentially follow the quake. Look for an area with minimal population and few buildings. After an earthquake, falling debris from buildings and angry, hungry mobs are the things you should fear most.
You want the distance to be far enough away to avoid damage from the quake, but still close enough to reach quickly. Remember that coastal areas may also be subject to Tsunamis so higher ground could play an important role in your decision. Buying a piece of land on a mountain terrain and building a small bug-out location that blends with the terrain is your best bet.
Plan your bug-out-bags with your second location in mind, making sure you have adequate food and water to get there. You may not be able to drive, due to either violent crowds, filled highways or road blocks, so your supplies should be adequate to allow you to get there on foot.
Preparing for the worst and hoping for the best is a great motto for staying alive after any disaster.