You live long enough in this area and you’ll hear somebody talk about the Pacific Northwest Region due for another big earthquake. What steps should I be aware of to make sure my home is safe? — Krista
Yes, Krista. Living on the “Ring of Fire” does make the threat of earthquake a clear and present danger. For those who have grown up around here, no doubt you have probably experienced quite a few earthquake drills during your schooling. Whether it’s the “next big one” or just a “standard-sized” earthquake, there are some steps to take to make sure your home is safe.
Securing the Top Heavy
The first step is to secure anything top heavy. Most commonly, your water heater should be secured. You are not required by law to retrofit hot water tank strapping. However, it is a code requirement for remodeling or new construction and it would be required if you put your house up for sale. If your water heater tips during an earthquake, you could face gas line and/or water line leaks. Approved metal strapping is available at most hardware or plumbing stores. If you purchase strapping made for this purpose it will include installation instructions, it is important that it is anchored to a wall stud.
You will also want to secure top-heavy furniture like bookcases and China hutches. Before using straps or adhesive, double check weight ratings to make sure they hold the desired amount of weight.
To install earthquake straps, unload your furniture and pull it away from the wall to locate wall studs. For best results, use a stud finding tool. Get prepared by drilling holes into the walls where the studs are located. Depending on the product, you may need either to attach to the wall or to the furniture first but once completed, you should be able to move the furniture in place and have the straps level. If not, there might be some problems when an earthquake occurs.
Once installed, give the furniture a pull. It should feel firm and it shouldn’t move.
Additionally, adhesives can keep collectibles, china, pottery, and lamps in place on your shelves.
Lastly, if you have a freestanding television, you can buy tv-specific straps to make sure your television doesn’t topple over!
Looking After Gas
After you’ve addressed the furniture, make sure you know where your gas meter is. If you’ve safely survived an earthquake, you’ll want to turn off the gas quickly to ensure no danger from leaks.
Most stores sell a key that you can hang on the meter that allows you to turn it off. You can also add an automatic shut off on your meter. This earthquake valve shuts off the gas during seismic activity and takes one item off your list in the wake of such an event. Setting this up usually requires bringing out the gas guy to install it. In some cases having the automatic shutoff will reduce the cost of your homeowners insurance.
Living in earthquake country can be scary. But it’s not too difficult to be prepared! If you have any questions or if you feel wary about certain aspects, let us know! We’d love to help!
Have a question for Careothers? Email him at askcareothers@TendHome.com