Are You Ready for the Next Earthquake?
While earthquakes are inevitable, the damage they cause is not. You can help Utah homeowners take simple actions to reduce property damage and the disruption to their lives caused by earthquakes. You may have completed repairs, but we urge you to consider many structural and non-structural measures that can be implemented at any time to make homes and businesses safer in the next earthquake.
One of the best non-structural measures you can undertake is strapping down your water heater. An earthquake-damaged water heater can cause fires, flooding, and carbon monoxide build-up (from gas-fired heaters) in the home. A protected water heater can be used as an emergency water source in cases where the disaster has knocked out local utilities.
The water heater should be braced to adjacent walls and equipped with flexible water and gas lines. Restraining or bracing water heaters is relatively easy and inexpensive, with strapping kits available at many hardware stores or online.
Another step that you can help homeowners take is making sure that bookshelves, cabinets, light fixtures, large picture frames and other heavy decorations are properly secured to the wall. This potential earthquake safety risk can be solved at little or no cost.
Before starting major retrofit work, ensure your clientele understand permitting requirements in coordination with the local city or county building department as special permits may be required.
We’ve recommended Utah residents hire a licensed professional to inspect damages and complete repairs by reviewing the list of Utah-based companies at https://secure.utah.gov/datarequest/professionals/index.html or check licenses at https://secure.utah.gov/llv/search/index.html.
Looking at the bigger picture, there is no such thing as totally “earthquake proof.” Even buildings designed to the latest building codes can be damaged. Which means that Utah buildings that didn’t get damaged during the Magna Quake and its aftershocks could still be vulnerable to future earthquakes.
Earthquake damage isn’t covered by a standard homeowner’s residential or fire insurance policy. So in addition to helping your clientele strengthen their house and securing non-structural hazards within their home, earthquake insurance should be considered. Contact your insurance agent for a quote or visit Utah’s insurance website.
For more information about fixing damages or preparing for the next earthquake see FEMA’s catalog of Earthquake Resources for technical resources or publications such as 528 Earthquake Home Hazard Hunt or P-530 Earthquake Safety at Home — email FEMA-R8-HMhelp@fema.dhs.gov.
For unreinforced masonry dwellings see the Utah Guide.
The Magna Earthquake that occurred March 18 was declared a federal disaster making grants and low interest loans available to homeowners for repairing their homes. Utah residents impacted by the earthquake and aftershocks of March 18 through April 17 who have not registered with FEMA can still apply for assistance at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (FEMA) or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Help is available in most languages.
If you require a reasonable accommodation or an alternative format of available information such as American Sign Language format, or audio format, please submit your request to: Region8AccommodationRequest@fema.dhs.gov.
FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters.
FEMA Earthquake Resources
Learn more at fema.gov/earthquake July, 2020
What to Do Before, During, and After an Earthquake
Recent earthquakes remind us that we live on a restless planet. But there are many important things we can do before, during, and after an earthquake to protect ourselves, our homes, and our families.
FEMA B-526 – Earthquake Safety Checklist
This quick reference guide helps individuals and families prepare for an earthquake and prevent earthquake-related damage to their homes. The easy-to-read booklet features instructions on conducting earthquake drills and “hazard hunts.” Also included are a checklist of disaster supplies, tips on what to do during and after an earthquake, and additional resources.
FEMA E-74 – Reducing the Risks of Nonstructural Earthquake Damage—A Practical Guide, Fourth Edition
The guide explains the sources of nonstructural earthquake damage in simple terms and to provide methods for reducing potential risks. Since nonstructural failures have accounted for the majority of earthquake damage in several recent U.S. earthquakes, it is critical to raise awareness of potential nonstructural risks, the costly consequences of nonstructural failures, and the opportunities that exist to limit future losses.
FEMA P-232 – Homebuilders’ Guide to Earthquake Resistant Design and Construction
This guide presents seismic design and construction guidance for one- and two-family light frame residential structures that can be utilized by homebuilders, homeowners, and other non-engineers, and provides supplemental information to the 2003 edition of the International Residential Code. Includes background information on the principles of seismic resistance and how earthquake forces impact conventional residential construction and more detailed information on architectural considerations. The guide also presents a series of “above code recommendations” and low cost measures that would increase the performance of the building and help keep it functional after an earthquake.
P-530 – Earthquake Safety At Home
Half of all Americans live in areas subject to earthquake risk, and most Americans will travel to seismically active regions in their lifetime. FEMA is fostering awareness of earthquake risks in the United States through the newly developed FEMA P-530, Earthquake Safety at Home. FEMA P-530 is intended to show readers why earthquakes matter where they live, and how they can “Prepare, Protect, Survive, Respond, Recover and Repair” from an earthquake. This publication will help readers become familiar with why and where earthquakes might occur.
FEMA P-1000 – Safer, Stronger, Smarter: A Guide to Improving School Natural Hazard Safety
This Guide provides up-to-date, authoritative information and guidance that schools can use to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing natural hazards. It is intended to be used by administrators, facilities managers, emergency managers, emergency planning committees, and teachers and staff at K through 12 schools. It can also be valuable for state officials, district administrators, school boards, teacher union leaders, and others that play a role in providing safe and disaster-resistant schools for all. Parents, caregivers, and students can also use this guide to learn about ways to advocate for safe schools in their communities.
P-1078 – Protect Yourself During Earthquakes
Do you know what to do, wherever you are, when the earth begins to shake? This poster provides visuals and descriptions on how you can protect yourself when an earthquake occurs.
P-1100 – Vulnerability-Based Seismic Assessment and Retrofit of One- and Two-Family Dwellings
Improved seismic design and seismic retrofitting of vulnerable configurations will increase the probability that homes are available to provide shelter immediately following moderate to large seismic events. The purpose of this pre-standard is provide a methodology to identify and retrofit specific known vulnerabilities in wood light-frame dwellings.
FEMA P-2055 – Post-disaster Building Safety Evaluation Guidance
This report is on the current state of practice for post-disaster building safety evaluation, including recommendations related to structural and nonstructural safety and habitability. FEMA P-2055 summarizes and references best practice guideline documents or provides interim recommendations for issues without best practice guidance.
FEMA V-528 – Earthquake Home Hazard Hunt Poster
This poster provides visuals and descriptions so that homeowners can identify and fix at-risk areas of their homes to reduce future earthquake damage and disruption.
“Would you like to learn how to make your home safer in an earthquake? Contact your Mitigation Specialist to learn more at FEMA-R8-HMhelp@fema.dhs.gov.