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Earthquake Preparation

Preventing earthquake damage
California may be known for earthquakes, but if you live anywhere west or just east of the Rockies, you live in an earthquake zone. If you live along the Mississippi River in the New Madrid region, that's an earthquake zone too. Earthquakes can and do occur everywhere from Alaska to the Appalachians and New England.

It's never too early to prepare your home and possessions for an earthquake.

Although you can improve the odds of your home surviving an earthquake by taking these precautions, it's not possible to make it entirely quakeproof or to guarantee your safety. Consider having experienced professionals help choose and install safety features.

Inside Your House
  • Anchor bookcases and filing cabinets to walls.
  • Install latches on drawers and cabinet doors to keep contents from spilling.
  • Install ledge barriers on shelves, and place heavy items on lower shelves.
  • Secure large, heavy items and breakables directly to shelves.
  • Use closed hooks and wire to securely attach pictures and mirrors to walls.
  • Attach computers and small appliances to desks, tables or countertops.
  • Secure ceiling lights, suspended ceilings, and other hanging items such as chandeliers and plants to beams.
  • Apply safety film to windows and glass doors.
  • Anchor large appliances to walls using safety cables or straps.
  • Lock the rollers of any large appliances or furniture.
  • Secure water heater(s) to walls.
  • Fit all gas appliances with flexible connections and/or a breakaway gas shutoff device or install a main gas shutoff device. (Check your local building codes to determine whether you may install flexible connectors yourself or whether a professional must install them.)

+Additional Steps to Protect Yourself and Your Family as Fully as Possible-Additional Steps to Protect Yourself and Your Family as Fully as PossibleAdditional Steps to Protect Yourself and Your Family as Fully as Possible
  • Teach everyone to duck or drop to the floor; take cover under a desk or table and hold on to it when an earthquake strikes. Remember the phrase "duck, cover and hold."
  • Become familiar with your community's disaster preparedness plans and create an evacuation plan.
  • Make certain all adult and teenage members of the family know where your gas, electric and water main shutoff controls are and how to turn them off if there is a leak or electrical short. Keep necessary wrenches close by.
  • Have a household safety kit prepared.
  • If you're a California resident, visit the California Earthquake Authority to make sure your homeowner's policy protects you in the event of an earthquake.