Home Earthquake Safety
Imagine what would happen if homes had wheels and was speeding
down a twisting, bumpy road. A major earthquake will have a similar
Home Inspection Checklist
Take 30 minutes and conduct a home walkthrough. Identify potential
hazards by using this handy worksheet.
1. Check the water heater and forced air unit to see if they are
securely fastened to wall studs with straps. Secure the water heater
with metal straps available at most hardware stores.
2. Identify top-heavy, freestanding furniture that could topple
in an earthquake, such as bookcases and china cabinets. Secure these
items by installing appropriate anchoring materials.
3. Identify heavy or breakable objects on high shelves or in cabinets.
Securely fasten or move these objects to lower locations.
4. Identify electronic equipment (stereos, computers, etc.) and
appliances (microwaves, toasters, etc.) that may slide off their
cabinets. Secure these by using double-stick tape or Velcro-like
fasteners, or provide a restraining edge on the cabinet shelf.
5. Identify hanging plants, especially those in heavy baskets and
hanging lights that are near windows. Move these to a safer location
or securely fasten them.
6. Identify mirrors, heavily framed pictures, etc. which are placed
over beds, couches, and chairs. Relocate these, or securely mount
7. Identify appliances that could move enough to rupture gas or
electrical lines. Securely fasten these objects.
8. Check all appliances and the water heater to make sure they
are connected to the fuel source with flexible lines. Install flexible
connectors on all gas appliances and the water heater.
9. Identify latches on kitchen and bathroom cabinets, which will
not hold the doors closed during heavy shaking. Install more secure
latches or hooks.
10. Inspect four-poster beds, enclosed bed frames, and Waterbeds
that may come apart or pieces that may fall onto the bed.
11. Identify poisons, toxins, or solvents especially those in breakable
containers, which are located in high or dangerous locations. Move
these containers to a safe, well-ventilated storage area. Store
ammonia and bleach in different locations. If these liquids mix,
they create toxic fumes. Plant pesticides, gasoline, paint thinners,
etc. on the floor, on a low shelf, or in a locked cabinet that is
securely fastened to the wall. If placed on a shelf, install a guardrail
to prevent the bottles or containers from slipping off the shelf
and breaking or spilling onto he floor. Close lids tightly on all
containers. Store gasoline in vapor-proof containers. Keep them
away from any water storage and out of the reach of children and
12. Inspect the home's foundation. Is the house securely bolted
13. Remove or replace any loose tiles or bricks from the chimney
14. Check cabinets and closets for loose items that may fall, break
or block exits.
15. Store items in the overhead of the garage to prevent them from
falling to prevent breakage and damage to automobiles. The overhead
storage area of a garage is a good location to store large bulky
items and seasonal/holiday decorations. Small, heavy items (i.e.
bowling balls and items that can break) are best stored on the floor
or storage cabinet.
16. Keep the area clear in front of either a manual or electric
garage door, ensure that large items cannot fall and block the garage
door from the inside. Locate gas, water, and electric utilities.
Know how to turn the utilities off. Teach family members how to
shut off all utilities and when to do so. Identify the shut-off
valve by painting it a bright color. Attach an adjustable wrench
to the gas meter. (This eliminates taking time to find one after
an earthquake.) If the gas is shut off, NEVER turn it back on. The
structure will need to be checked for leaks and all of the pilot
lights must be relit. SDG&E should be contacted to restore service.
17. If you live in a mobile home check the foundation to make sure
that it has been reinforced and that the undercarriage has been
securely tied to the foundation. Without this, the mobile home may
be thrown off its foundation even during small tremors. Tie doublewide
mobile homes together. The two units are generally of different
weights. When an earthquake strikes, they tend to react differently
and pull apart. Structural support bracing systems are commercially
available. Designs and costs vary, but a good bracing system can
be a very worthwhile investment. If interested in a seismic bracing
system, contact the mobile home owner's association, local mobile
home dealer or look in the telephone book.