Early damage reports from today’s earthquake validate the case for simple preparations for families and small businesses to help prevent injury, property damage, and post-earthquake fires
(Tallahassee, FL) Citing today’s Magnitude 6.0 Northern California earthquake, the nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) urges residents in 42 USGS-identified earthquake states to take immediate action to prevent injuries, property damage, and post-earthquake fires.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “While all states have some potential for earthquakes, 42 of the 50 states have a reasonable chance of experiencing damaging ground shaking from an earthquake in 50 years (the typical lifetime of a building). Scientists also conclude that 16 states have a relatively high likelihood of experiencing damaging ground shaking. These states have historically experienced earthquakes with a magnitude 6.0 or greater. The hazard is especially high along the west coast, intermountain west, and in several active regions of the central and eastern U.S., such as near New Madrid, MO, and near Charleston, SC. The 16 states at highest risk are Alaska, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.” USGS published new national seismic hazard maps last month.
“Buildings constructed with strong, modern seismic codes and standards will perform better in earthquakes, but it is up to the resident or building owner to take actions inside and around the structure to prevent injuries and interior damage from falling objects, broken glass, and gas leaks,” said FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson. “Most of these critical preparations require only household tools and basic home improvement skills, so acting now before the next earthquake can mean the difference between life and death.”
Chapman-Henderson provided prevention examples for homes and small businesses, including:
- Support ceiling fans and light fixtures using bracing wire secured to a screw eye embedded at least an inch into the ceiling joist.
- Anchor the tops of bookcases, file cabinets, and entertainment centers to one or more studs with flexible fasteners.
- Secure loose shelving by fastening screws into the cabinet or with museum putty placed at each corner bracket.
- Secure china, collectibles, trophies, and other shelf items with museum putty.
- Install a lip or blocking device to prevent books or other articles from falling off shelves.
- Secure televisions, computers, and stereos with buckles and safety straps that also allow easy removal and relocation.
- Install latches on cabinet doors to prevent them from opening and spilling out contents.
- Hang mirrors, pictures, and plants using closed hooks to prevent items from falling.
- Cover windows with approved shatter-resistant safety film to protect against broken glass.
- Ensure appliances have flexible gas or electrical connections.
- Strap the top and bottom of a water heater using heavy-gauge metal strapping secured to wall studs.
- Locate gas shutoff valve and know how to turn off the gas supply with the use of a specialty wrench. (video)
- Relocate flammable liquids to a garage or outside storage location.
Technical information is derived from FEMA document E-74 Reducing the Risks of Nonstructural Earthquake Damage. QuakeSmart is a FEMA National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) initiative to help businesses in at-risk communities implement mitigation actions in addition to basic preparedness activities, such as creating and exercising disaster plans, preparing disaster supply kits, and knowing how to Drop, Cover, and Hold On (www.ShakeOut.org).