Reduce Earthquake Damage to Homes

Unlike tornadoes or hurricanes, there are no warnings for earthquakes. Although an earthquake usually only lasts an average of 10 to 30 seconds, that’s long enough to do substantial damage to your home or business. While certain parts of the country are more commonly associated with earthquakes, the truth is that this highly unpredictable natural disaster can take place almost anywhere.

How to Prepare Your Home for an Earthquake

While California and the west command much attention for frequent earthquake activity, many other states experience significant seismic activity, especially in the central and eastern portions of the U.S. In fact, Alaska actually holds the title as the country’s most seismic-active state with the Alaska Earthquake Information Center (AEIC) reporting 20,000 earthquakes annually.

Even if you live in an area that hasn’t experienced an earthquake for hundreds of years, it’s prudent to know how to prepare for an earthquake. Part of any good emergency preparedness plan should include earthquake safety. Read on for earthquake safety tips and disaster preparedness information, and learn how to reduce or prevent earthquake damage to your home.

Reinforce Your Home

An earthquake puts your home’s structure to the test—it must absorb the earthquake’s energy and provide a stable path to transfer these forces back into the ground. Your home is more likely to pass this test when it is properly tied together—when the roof is attached tightly to the walls, the walls are fastened to each other, and when the walls are braced and anchored to a strong foundation.

That’s why it’s important you take action now to protect your home against this highly unpredictable natural disaster. Disaster preparedness can help lessen earthquake damage. No emergency preparedness checklist is complete without home safety tips showing you how to prepare for an earthquake.

If the structural elements of your home need reinforcing, some of the most important and common retrofits include:

  • Adding anchor bolts or steel plates between your home and its foundation.
  • Bracing the inside of your home’s cripple wall (the short wood-stud wall between the top of the foundation wall and the first floor) with sheathing.
  • Bracing unreinforced chimneys, masonry and concrete walls and foundations.

Additional Resources

Reduce Damage from Earthquakes

Six projects under $70