OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Basic steps give some earthquake protection

12/08/1998

CORVALLIS, Ore. - If a great earthquake were to strike the Pacific Northwest, the chances are two out of three you will be at home, and one out of three you will be in bed.

So, as Oregon State University geologist Robert Yeats says in his new book "Living With Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest," the ability of your home to withstand an earthquake may affect not only your pocketbook but also the lives of you and your family.

Towards that goal, he offers a number of practical tips to safeguard both you and your home. Some are easy and others more costly; techniques to do all of these tasks are outlined in Yeats' book, can be arranged for by a contractor, or may be explained in other literature available from your Extension service or library. They include:

 

  • Train your family what to do and how to behave in an earthquake. It could save lives.

     

  • Make sure your house is bolted adequately to its foundation.

     

  • se bracing and bolts to increase the strength of the "cripple wall" rising from the foundation.

     

  • Install flexible connections on all your gas appliances and make sure the main shut-off valve can be turned off quickly in an emergency.

     

  • Use straps connected to wall studs to secure your water heater.

     

  • Make sure that large pieces of furniture or ceiling fixtures won't collapse on anyone in bed.

     

  • Replace glass in large picture windows or sliding doors with tempered or laminated glass, or to save money consider a "safety film" which prevents the glass from shattering if it breaks.

     

  • Install safety catches on cabinet doors to keep the contents from spilling out onto the floor, and strap top-heavy furniture such as refrigerators, tall cabinets or television sets to the wall or floor.

These are only a few of the possible improvements that may help protect life or property from an earthquake, but they could be important ones, Yeats said.

The other major action any home or business owner should consider is earthquake insurance. A typical homeowner's insurance policy will NOT cover earthquake damage unless it is specifically arranged for. But the good news is that in the Pacific Northwest, which has less of an earthquake history than someplace like California, earthquake insurance is still reasonably priced.