a hazard hunt in your home
ground movement that accompanies earthquakes is seldom the cause
of property damage. Homes that are structurally sound with their
internal contents properly secured generally come through earthquakes
with relatively little damage. On the other hand, unprepared homes
are unsafe and their contents are vulnerable to the violent motion
of major earthquakes.
The following list
is a place to start to look for potential hazards in your home.
We encourage you to work on one each April. Once each item it secured,
it stays that way.
Start with your water heater
Since your water
heater is one of the greatest potential hazards in an earthquake
and is also valuable source of drinkable water if your water supply
is cut off. It is the first hazard we recommend to be secured, if
it is not already done. For specific instructions on how to secure
your water heater and other items identified below, contact your
local Red Cross chapter.
Check your water heater. Is it properly secured on the top and
bottom with 16 – 18 gauge steel strap? Is this strapping
directly secured to the studs behind the wall with lag screws?
Have you replaced the copper piping with flexible connectors?
If not, take these corrective actions first.
You can find instructions
on how to do this with the Red Cross, your local fire department
or at a home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowe’s.
You can also find them at www.cert-la.com then click on ESP Fliers
and then click on “Brace Water Heater”.
Other potential hazards
Identify top-heavy, freestanding furniture, which could topple
in an earthquake. Likely pieces are tall bookcases, china cabinets,
chests of drawers, shelving units, etc. Are they secured to the
Identify heavy or breakable objects on high shelves in bookcases
or cabinets, or on top of dressers, etc. Either secure them with
Velcro or move them to a lower location.
Identify all pieces of electronic equipment (computers, stereos,
televisions, radios, etc.), small appliances (microwave ovens,
toaster, blenders, etc.), and other types of equipment (sewing
machines, answering machines, etc.) that may slide off their cabinet
or counter tops. Either strap them in place or secure them with
Identify hanging plants, especially those in heavy baskets, and
hanging lamps that are near windows. Ground movement may cause
them to swing and fall and/or break the windows. Either move or
Identify mirrors and heavily framed pictures which are located
above beds, couches, etc. Relocate these items or mount them securely.
Identify latches on kitchen, bathroom and workroom cabinets that
will not hold their doors securely closed during heavy shaking.
Secure these doors by replacing their latches with earthquake
Identify poisons, toxins or solvents in breakable containers that
are located in high or dangerous locations. Move these items to
lower locations. Keep them away from your water and food storage,
and out of the reach of children and pets.
Inspect the foundation of your home. Make sure your home is properly
bolted to the foundation.
Inspect your chimney and roof for loose bricks and tiles that
may jar loose in an earthquake. Determine whether plywood should
be added to the attic to protect you home in case you chimney
falls in an earthquake.
Once you have conducted
this Home Hazard Hunt you may want to correct all of the potential
problems right way. You may want to contract a company to come and
do all of this at one time, if you feel you can afford it. If you
are not able to do so, be certain to identify one item to be corrected
each April and in time all of the hazards will be eliminated. Even
when you have completed all these steps, conduct a hazard hunt each
year to make certain that some new hazardous situation has not developed.