Most injuries during an earthquake are caused by falling objects. This means that your house or apartment might be out to get you! Heavy objects can tip over, wall hangings and lights can fall, and appliances can break and cause flooding or gas leaks.
Here are some steps to prepare your house or apartment for an earthquake.
Secure Heavy Objects
The first step to earthquake-proofing your house or apartment is to secure any objects that could fall on you. For example, your couch probably won’t tip over, but your fridge might. Think about what could injure you or a family member if the world starts shaking.
Secure objects like:
- Tall furniture including bookcases, shelves, and cabinets
- Pictures and mirrors
- Overhead lights
Take special care to bolt down and secure your appliances. Using flexible connectors can help to prevent water or gas leaks even if your appliances shift during the quake. Metal and plastic connectors are more likely to break than rubbery ones.
PRO TIP: If undamaged, your water heater can be a great source of drinking water during an emergency.
Put breakable objects like glassware, dishes, and decorations into cabinets with strong latches. Heavy objects should be put on lower shelves. The shorter the fall, the less chance of injury.
It’s also a good idea to hang heavy items like pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, or any other places your family members spend a lot of time. Let’s be real. You’re probably going to either be sitting on the couch or sleeping when an earthquake strikes.
Learn the Location of Your Utilities (and How to Use Them)
Learn the location of your utilities like the electric breaker box and the shut off valves for water and gas. But don’t just learn their locations; learn how to disconnect them. During an emergency, you’ll want to shut them off.
Keep Up with Home Maintenance
That water damage on the ceiling you’ve been painting over for years could indicate structural problems. If an earthquake strikes, your ceiling—and anything on the floor above—could come crashing down.
Proper maintenance will help to keep the structure of your house or apartment strong and decrease the likelihood of collapse. This is especially important if you live in a multi-family building. It’s not just your life at risk. It’s the lives of those living around you as well. If you suspect a structural defect, make sure your landlord repairs it.
Get Earthquake Insurance
Securing heavy objects might help to prevent injury during an earthquake, but it won’t prevent your stuff from damage. Earthquakes can cause catastrophic property damage, and the last thing you need after surviving an earthquake is the massive expense of purchasing new furniture and appliances.
Purchasing earthquake insurance is a good way to prepare your home or apartment in a different way. Even if you rent, your landlord’s insurance might cover structural damage, but it won’t protect your personal belongings.