7 Earthquake Safety: Tips to Secure Your Home

7 Earthquake Safety: Tips to Secure Your Home


Living in an earthquake-prone region like Irvine means that preparing for seismic events is crucial for you and your family's safety. While earthquakes can occur unexpectedly, taking proactive measures to secure your home and develop a comprehensive emergency plan can significantly reduce risks. Here are some practical earthquake safety tips that will help you secure your home and be better prepared.

Understand Your Home's Earthquake Risk

Knowing the specific risks your property faces is the first step in preparing.

  • Seismic Hazard Zone: Determine if your home is located in a high-risk seismic hazard zone. California's Earthquake Hazards Zone Application (EQ Zapp) can provide this information.

  • Construction Type: Identify your home's construction type. Older buildings, particularly those built before the enforcement of modern seismic codes, may have vulnerabilities.

  • Foundation Stability: Check if your foundation is secure. Homes with raised foundations might need retrofitting to minimize the risk of shifting.
Being aware of your home's unique vulnerabilities will guide your preparation strategy.

Strengthen Your Home's Structure

Structural reinforcements can help your home withstand an earthquake.

  • Foundation Bolting: If your home is built on a raised foundation, consider bolting it to the foundation. This can prevent the house from slipping off the foundation during seismic activity.

  • Bracing Cripple Walls: Cripple walls (short walls between the foundation and the floor) can collapse during an earthquake. Bracing them with plywood sheets strengthens them.

  • Reinforce Chimneys: Unreinforced masonry chimneys are prone to collapse. Consider bracing them with steel straps or replacing them with metal flue pipes.

  • Retrofitting Soft-Story Buildings: If your home has a weak ground floor due to garages or large windows, consult a structural engineer about retrofitting.
These structural measures will add crucial protection to your home.

Secure Heavy and Hazardous Items

Preventing injuries from falling objects is vital during an earthquake.

  • Furniture: Anchor heavy furniture like bookshelves and cabinets to walls using L-brackets or safety straps. This will prevent them from toppling over.

  • Appliances: Secure water heaters with seismic straps and attach refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers to walls.

  • Wall Hangings: Use earthquake putty or museum wax to secure framed pictures and mirrors to walls.

  • Hazardous Materials: Store chemicals, cleaning supplies, and flammable materials on lower shelves and inside cabinets with safety latches.

  • Gas Shutoff Valve: Install an automatic gas shutoff valve that activates during significant shaking to prevent leaks and fires.
These precautions will minimize the risk of injury and damage during an earthquake.

Create a Family Emergency Plan

Having a plan ensures everyone knows what to do when an earthquake strikes.

  • Emergency Kit: Pack a kit with essentials like food, water, first aid supplies, medications, flashlights, batteries, and blankets. Have enough supplies for at least three days.

  • Safe Meeting Spots: Identify safe spots in each room, like under sturdy furniture or against interior walls. Make sure family members know where to go.

  • Communication Plan: Designate an out-of-state contact person to check in with, and plan how to communicate if cell service is disrupted.

  • Escape Routes: Know the safest exits from each room and practice family earthquake drills.
A well-rehearsed plan will reduce panic and confusion in a real emergency.

Know What to Do During and After an Earthquake

Quick thinking can prevent injuries and additional damage during and after a quake.

  • During an Earthquake: Drop to your hands and knees, cover your head and neck, and hold on to a sturdy piece of furniture. Stay away from windows, exterior walls, and falling objects.

  • After an Earthquake: Check for injuries and administer first aid. Inspect your home for structural damage, and only turn off the gas if you smell it or suspect a leak.

  • Stay Updated: Tune in to emergency broadcasts via battery-powered radios or phones for evacuation orders, aftershock warnings, and other information.
Knowing these steps will help you stay calm and make smart decisions.

Get Earthquake Insurance

Standard homeowners insurance often doesn't cover earthquake damage, so securing earthquake-specific coverage is important.

  • Policy Coverage: Review your policy to ensure it covers structural damage, personal property, and additional living expenses if your home becomes uninhabitable.

  • Deductibles: Understand the deductibles and limits to your coverage so that you're not caught off guard in a worst-case scenario.

  • Premiums: Research multiple providers and consider your home's structural reinforcements to find the best premium.
Earthquake insurance provides peace of mind and financial protection after a disaster.

Stay Informed and Keep Improving

Seismic safety is an ongoing process that requires continuous improvement.

  • Stay Updated on Codes: Check regularly for changes in local building codes and guidelines to ensure your home remains compliant and as safe as possible.

  • Professional Inspections: Consider periodic inspections by a structural engineer or contractor who specializes in seismic retrofitting.

  • Community Resources: Utilize resources from local government agencies, disaster relief organizations, and community groups to keep your emergency plan current.
Regular updates and improvements will keep your home and family safer.
While earthquakes are unpredictable, taking proactive steps to secure your home and prepare for emergencies is essential for keeping your family safe. By understanding your home's risks, strengthening its structure, securing heavy items, and developing a family emergency plan, you'll be better prepared to face a seismic event.

Partner with the Stephanie Young Group

If you're looking for comprehensive advice about buying or selling homes in Irvine or want to assess earthquake safety for your next property, reach out to The Stephanie Young Group. Their expertise in Irvine real estate will help you find a secure and comfortable home.




Registration will begin April 3rd. All potential buyers will need to submit some documents, along with a CalHFA pre-approval letter from a lender as part of CalHFA's registration requirements.

Registration will close on April 29th. Shortly after, they will begin issuing vouchers in a lottery style to the winners. Each voucher lasts for 90 days so buyers who receive one will need to move quickly on their purchases.

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