Earthquake – What you need to know.
When can an earthquake impact your property?
Typically, the construction of residential buildings begins to be influenced by seismic considerations when the risk-based ground motion accelerations exceed about 35 percent of gravity. Seismic considerations for commercial buildings can be more complicated, depending upon the type of construction and weight of various elements. For example, an un-reinforced masonry building may be vulnerable to damage or collapse at levels of ground motion below 35 percent of gravity. Risks of earthquake damage increase as the expected ground motion increases.
Buildings with complex floor plans, such as those with an “L” or “H” shapes, and those with heavy roofs, such as tile or masonry, and with large openings in walls or in the floor plan tend to be at greater risk of structural damage. Additionally heavy building features, such as chimneys, are frequent sources of structural damage. Buildings with short walls used to elevate the bottom floor framing, known as “cripple walls,” also are more susceptible to damage, if the walls are not reinforced and properly anchored to both the foundation and the floor system.
Did you know falling objects are the biggest source of damage and injuries in U.S. earthquakes, according to FEMA.
Answer the questions below to help determine what other risks your property might face. Then, visit the earthquake-related projects on this site to find step-by-step guidance to reduce the risk of damage.
1. Does your building have the lowest floor supported on short frame walls?
2. Is your water heater strapped to the wall? Are the pipe connections to the water heater flexible?
3. Do you have natural gas appliances? Are the gas supply lines to the appliances flexible?
4. Are your book cases and any large mirrors strapped to the wall framing?
5. Are suspended ceilings fixtures anchored to reduce their movement in an earthquake?
6. Are large glass panes coated on the inside with a protective film that will reduce the chances of glass shards exploding across the room?
7. Are televisions, computer monitors and other expensive electronics restrained or anchored to the walls, shelves or desktops so that they will not fall over or fall off in an earthquake?
8. Are there latches on cabinet doors that will prevent them from popping open and spilling contents of the cabinets all over the floor?
Addressing structural vulnerabilities for earthquakes usually requires the services of a structural engineer, who can evaluate and develop reasonable remedial measures to reduce risks. However, there are affordable DYI projects that you or a handyman can complete. Now, let’s get to work on reducing your risk of damage and injury during an earthquake.
© 2012 Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety