Thank you for your help every week. I utilize some of your information almost weekly and am thankful to have the opportunity to ask a question of you.
We keep hearing on the news that the big earthquake is coming and as more time passes without it, my wife and I are getting more nervous that it really may be coming.
1994 was a big one and we didn’t live even in California at that time so have never experienced such a thing.
We are pretty nervous now that we have been thinking about it and we’d like to be proactive as much as we can be, in order to have as little damage to our home and belongings as we can in case this occurs.
Can you please help us to know where to even begin?
There is a lot of information on the internet but we’ll trust your advice over any of that.
Thank you again, we value your input and are appreciative of someone like you who is willing to give your time to help others. -Michael and Kayla W.
Michael and Kayla,
Thank you for writing in. I love what I do and am happy to help, so you’re welcome.
Boy, you really brought back memories with this question. I am always asked about general earthquake information, but when the specifics of 1994 come back to me, boy that was a time. There was so much damage here in Santa Clarita, it was unbelievable.
There is much that you can do to help with being prepared, especially with safety in mind. The list is long, but some of this should already be in place in your home, if you’ve had any somewhat recent work done.
Let’s begin with the biggest safety issue, FLASHLIGHTS. It’s so important to be able to find your way in an emergency, but flashlights are often forgotten as a necessary item until it’s too late.
I recommend having a flashlight, that is checked and always in working order, in each bedroom and main living area. Nothing worse than a 3:00 a.m. earthquake and no lighting to be found. This is an easy thing to do, and you can easily set phone reminders to check batteries, every few months.
Now on to gas lines and water heaters. You can purchase a specific tool at the big box stores, it’s a gas meter shut off tool. They sell these at the big box stores for very little money, and you can mount this tool right at your gas meter, for easy access in the event of any emergency.
This can be vital in an earthquake, as gas lines can rupture with enough movement. If you detect a gas leak, use this tool to shut down the gas line until it has been cleared as safe by the Gas Company. I highly recommend this tool for everyone, always.
You should always know where your main water shut off is, and it should be exercised twice a year. This simply means, use the main shut off valve, and turn your water off and then on, to ensure that the valve is in working order.
Another item is the water heater. Your water heater should be properly installed with the necessary earthquake strapping securely attached.
I also recommend that if you have the ability to purchase and store one, that you have a generator on hand. During the ’94 quake, I can’t tell you how many calls I received with requests for generators.
It isn’t 100 percent necessary, but it sure does make life easier during power outages, if you can sustain power for lighting, heating and as we experienced in some cases, running necessary medical equipment. I have one at my home and rarely need it, but it is great peace of mind knowing that I have it if that time should come.
Strapping down furniture that may fall during a quake is very important.
We all know this but many choose not to go to the trouble to do so. It’s a risk not to, because much damage can be done to not only the furniture itself but the contents and the floor and items around it, as well as the physical injuries it can cause.
Cabinet doors, specifically those in kitchens, can be a source of great loss if they are able to open and spill the contents. I saw homes where cabinets weren’t secured, however, they were virtually untouched by damage. But, then I also saw homes where the cabinets were set in the same direction of the quakes movement and all contents had spilled out.
If the doors are secured, you have a better chance at saving contents than without. The big box stores carry a multitude of door latches, it’s a matter of your preference, which you choose.
You’ll of course want to have enough drinking water and food on hand for several days. This can ease the burdens that can occur with downed services.
There are a number of sites on the internet where you can find more in depth information, but these are just a few things to do.
As homeowners we can check on structural items, making sure our homes are adequately protected. Check the internet for additional information, and try to be as prepared as you can. Good luck.