If I had to be anywhere during a disaster it would be at home with my family, bundled up together. There is something that is just safe about home. We know it well and it seems safer than any other place in the world.
Not to burst a bubble, but many homes may feel safe but are not as safe as we think in a big disaster such as an earthquake. Thankfully, we have great building codes that require each building to be built in a way that will stand up to such disasters. However, a home is only as good as the building code when it was built. If you own a home that was built before key building codes were enacted, you might be in trouble.
Buildings are generally built to withstand up and down pressure. An earthquake will rock a building from side to side until it reaches the breaking point. But this does not mean that your home is doomed from the get-go and you should just plan for the inevitable destruction. Here are some key things to look for and how to fix them before a disaster strikes.
Your foundation is just that, the rock that holds your entire home in place. It is the first thing built and it should be built to last the longest. That being said, many foundations will have a crack if the land around the home has settled since it was poured. This will take away your structure’s strength and stability. If you have foundation issues, do not try to fix it yourself. This is a matter for a professional contractor.
Reinforced Walls and Masonry
Brick buildings and any walls should be reinforced to increase safety. If your walls are not reinforced, contact a contractor to ensure that your house is reinforced to safety code.
A common side effect of an earthquake is fires. Fires will start when a water heater tips over, or gas leaks from a ravaged building. Check your water heater to make sure that it is bolted to the wall to avoid any spills. Ensure that your electrical cords are not damaged or frayed, and especially that you are not overloading one outlet with too many plugs. Install smoke detectors on at least every floor and check the batteries regularly.
If you own your own home, you have quite a bit more control over the safety of your home. But what happens if you rent a home? How can you keep it safe? If you have an awesome landlord that will spend the money making safety changes, you are very lucky. Most landlords would be less likely to toss down that cash unless they were required. The best step is to look for home safety before you rent. First, check the foundation for any obvious cracks. Check staircases, especially concrete ones in apartments, for any obvious issues. And ask your landlord to secure the water heater. It is the least they could do.