Ridley Home Service -                             Foundation Specialists
How to lessen the damage in your home from earthquakes
Fault lines surround the globe and the closer you are to Earthquake Zones, the more vital it is for you to take steps to protect your family, home and possessions. It is not wise to be ignorant of earthquake faults in your region. One big earthquake in your neighborhood could wipe out everything you hold near and dear. Take steps now to avoid the havoc an earthquake can make of your life.
Your home is your investment, your possessions are your treasures, and the safety of your family is a precious jewel. Fault lines surround the globe and the closer you are to Earthquake Zones, the more vital it is for you to take action.
I have lived the majority of my years along the infamous San Andreas Fault of California. When I moved south from San Francisco I breathed a sigh of relief. A year later, I was jolted out of my ignorance as a mild earthquake rattled through town.
Step one in lessening the damage to yourself and your property in the event of an earthquake is to know if you are living along a fault line. The US Geological Survey can assist you in making full disclosure of the region in which you live. This information may also prove quite handy in your decision to purchase a home and live in a specific area. This will also assist you in choosing and purchasing specific earthquake insurance coverage.
Step two in lessening the financial damage of whatever damage you do incur, is to take the time to select an insurance company and the policy, which best covers your needs. It is reasonable if you balk at the yearly premiums. The USGS can inform you of the projected frequency of seismic activity in your area. Maybe the odds are that an earthquake only has happened once every 50 – 100 years in your area. What if you happen to be uninsured when that time comes ten years after you have settled in the region?
Seventeen years after I found out that my little corner of earth had several fault lines, The Loma Pieta Earthquake shook our region so hard that it took many years to recover. I had earthquake insurance and, although I had to work aggressively with the insurance company, it certainly made recovery possible. Keep a current photo or video record of your home and possessions. This will aid you greatly in recovering any loss.
Step three in lessening earthquake damage is that you must consider how your home is attached to the ground. When the earth heaves, it is much better that your home move in the same direction to avoid collision from the subsequent waves of earth movement. Securing your home to the land may involves a permanent rebar enforced foundation. If you have a mobile home, you may be able to secure your home for less cost via a tie-down system. In our region, mobile homes, which were still secured to the original manufacturer’s trailer with tires, fared amazingly well. The rubber absorbed the shock. The homes that had the worst damage were those with unreinforced brick and termite-infested wood foundations. These homes utterly collapsed and caused injury and death.
Step four to lessen earthquake damage to your home, is to maintain your home’s foundation. Regular termite and foundation inspections are part of your home investment. It is vital, in earthquake country to inspect or have your home inspected and repairs made at least every ten years.
Most people in an earthquake zone will experience mild to moderate shakers in their lifetime. I had “quake-proofed” my home based on my personal experience of earthquakes. Experts now refer to these size shakers as “earth movements.” When a real big earthquake hit, the damage was astounding.
Step five to lessen the greatest earthquake damage is to get out of the way! Get away from glass, as it will shatter. Get away from old brick buildings, as falling bricks become deadly. If you are inside, lie next to a bed or couch. If the building collapses, you are safer next to something that collapses, then underneath it. There is much information available through the Red Cross and other disaster organizations on Earthquake safety tips. Safety organizations usually update these tips yearly with latest experience-learned lessons.
Step six is based on the fact that, an earthquake will move everything not tied down. To lessen earthquake damage to the inside of your home, take a walk through and look at anything that would fall or slide. Books fall out of bookcases. If the bookcase is not secure to the wall, it may end up across the room. Heavy objects that took two husky movers, a dolly, and an hour or two to move into your house, take only 15 seconds of earth quaking to move anywhere in or out of your home. Secure your furniture to the walls. Secure knick-knacks on shelves with plastic adhesive. There are quite a few of these products available at china shops and hardware stores. A local museum may advise you on what product they use. Keep in mind that a heavy item flying from the shelf to your head, can cause a serious medical problem. An heirloom plate or cherished breakables may be shattered to pieces if not secured to the shelf or wall. There are also Velcro or metal fasteners to assist in protecting your computer, TV, or entertainment systems. Our 24” television survived because we had duct-taped it to the cedar chest. However, the television tube was damaged because of the power surges that occurred during the earthquake and aftershocks.
Step seven; invest in some quality surge protectors for all your expensive electric powered items. Take a good assessment of your electrical items including your refrigerator, freezer and range-top. Power was out in our area for three days and in our neighborhood for two weeks. Imagine our disappointment when, after power was restored, we still had no TV, and no refrigerator because of power-surge damage.
Written by laurie kennabrew - © 2002 Pagewise
Earthquakes are considered a part of life for many of us, certainly for those living in California, but also for those living in Washington, Oregon, and even Nevada. And those of us who make mobile homes a part of everyday life should pay just as much attention to earthquake safety as anyone else. Take the 1994 Northridge Earthquake for a recent example. The Northridge Earthquake provided an opportunity to see first hand the effects that a major earthquake event has on nearby mobile home structures. This quake struck in close proximity to several mobile home communities located in the San Fernando Valley. Damage to the homes was extensive and costly. Why did mobile homes suffer greater damage, on average, than nearby frame built homes? The answer: a large majority of mobile homes in the area were mounted on piers. Most mobile homes
are mounted on a system of piers, the most widely  
used method of providing a foundation for mobile homes. These piers are typically metal tripods or concrete blocks that are positioned below the steel chassis, or undercarriage, of the mobile home. The piers are adjusted and leveled so that the mobile home itself rests in a level position on top of the piers. Once this is completed, the mobile home will be positioned approximately 24 to 36 inches above the ground. Utility hookups for water, , and gas are then attached underneath the mobile home. This is an effective method of installing mobile homes. However, it is a less than desirable arrangement should a major seismic event strike in close proximity. The piers, which are not typically secured to the ground, will give way when strong shaking motion occurs. This, in turn, causes the mobile home to drop 24 to 36 inches before striking the ground. Such an impact can bend the steel chassis beneath the home, sever and damage the utility connections, and cause the piers to pierce through the flooring of the mobile home. The contents of the home are scattered and damaged, and structures connected to the home, such as carports or patio
decks and awnings, can be torn away from the main structure. A rather simple mechanism can prevent this scenario from happening - an Earthquake Restraint Bracing System (ERBS). These systems are manufactured and sold by several companies, and in California, must be certified by the Department of Housing and Community Development. We encourage all mobile home owners in earthquake prone areas to install a certified ERBS system. It can save your home from extensive damage in an earthquake. The California Department of Housing and Community Development publishes a list of companies that manufacture certified Earthquake Restraint BracingSystems.