Your home is more likely to withstand an earthquake when its structural elements — walls, roof, foundation — are firmly connected to one another. When a home is properly “tied together,” it’s better able to absorb the earthquake’s energy and transfer it back to the ground.
Modifications can include:
- Securing the home to its foundation with steel anchor bolts and plates.
- Bracing the frames of crawlspace sidewalls (cripple walls) with plywood.
- Reinforcing masonry and concrete with steel bars and mesh.
Retrofits like these usually require the expertise of a licensed architect, engineer or contractor. Local firms will be familiar with earthquake building codes where you live.
You could consider making some non-structural modifications yourself. These involve preparing the inside of your home to make it safer during an earthquake. Materials and kits for these jobs are widely available at home improvement stores.
- Anchor furnishings to walls — bookcases, grandfather clocks, cabinets, artwork, etc.
- Install latches on drawers and cabinet doors to keep contents from spilling.
- Apply safety film to windows and glass doors to prevent shattering.
- Install ledge barriers on shelves and place heavy items on low shelves.
- Secure the water heater and other large appliances to walls.
- Attach ceiling fixtures to the permanent structure — using an electrician for lights and fans.
Finally, according to Ready.gov, you should teach everyone in your household to take the following action when an earthquake hits:
- Move away from windows, skylights and doors.
- Duck, Cover and Hold: Duck or drop to the floor. Take cover under a desk or table. Hold onto it until the shaking stops.
- When outside, move away from electrical lines, trees and buildings — then drop to the ground.
- If driving, carefully pull over and stop in the open — away from bridges, power lines and signs that could fall.
Talk with your Farmers® agent. They can help you understand your insurance options so you can select the insurance you want and answer your insurance questions. Because the more you know, the better you can plan for what’s ahead.
How To Prepare For An Event That Feels "Like A Truck Slamming Into Your House"
Learn five DIY earthquake safety tips to consider for updating your home, from an earthquake scientist who lives on a fault zone.