Preparing for an Earthquake

Washington has the second highest earthquake risk in the United States, experiencing 20 damaging earthquakes in the last 125 years. Our most well-known earthquake was the 6.8-magnitude Nisqually earthquake in 2001. It shook the Puget Sound region from Olympia to Everett and was felt as far away as Spokane.

According to the Washington State Emergency Management Division, the Nisqually earthquake caused up to $4 billion in damages, injured hundreds, and killed one.

There’s no doubt Washington is earthquake country. So, how prepared or unprepared are you for the “Big One”? Now is the time to get prepared, make a plan, and practice what you know.

Get Prepared

Now is the time to prepare for an earthquake. Consider taking the following steps to help protect your home and family.

American Red Cross Tips for Protecting Your Home:

  • Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs. Have a professional install flexible fittings to avoid gas or water leaks.
  • Do not hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, near beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
  • Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
  • Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
  • Place large and heavy objects and breakable items (bottled foods, glass or china) on lower shelves.
  • Anchor overhead lighting fixtures to joists.
  • Anchor top-heavy, tall and freestanding furniture such as bookcases, china cabinets to wall studs to keep these from toppling over.
  • Ask about home repair and strengthening tips for exterior features, such as porches, decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports and garage doors.
  • Learn about your area’s seismic building standards and land use codes before you begin new construction.
  • Have a professional make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation, as well as strengthening tips for exterior features, such as porches, decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports and garage doors.

Washington State Emergency Management Division Tips for Protecting Your Family:

If you don’t have one already, assemble a home emergency kit. Learn how by watching this short, easy-to-follow video:

 

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