According to scientists, California has more than a 99% chance of having a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake within the next 30 years.

The real question is, do you know how to prepare for and survive a major earthquake the next time it hits your home or business? If you’re not sure how to prepare for the next time one of these natural disasters rolls through your neighborhood, the professionals at Consulting Engineers Corp. are here to help.

With more than 47 years of experience, we’ve worked with numerous commercial, industrial, and multi-unit residential projects, and we’re proud to be recognized as leaders in the design and retrofitting industry. Seismic retrofitting is one the best things you can do for your property to ensure it can withstand the violent seismic movements of an earthquake. If you’re interested in learning more about how earthquake retrofitting can benefit your structure, or you’d like to schedule a consultation with one of our engineers, contact our friendly staff today. Our engineers are registered in the states of California, Oregon, Mississippi, and Washington.

What You Should Know About Seismic Hazards

Earthquakes are one of the most difficult natural disasters to prepare for. Some states, such as Utah and California, have thousands of fault lines running underneath them. These fault lines can cause earthquakes to occur on a semi-regular basis, however most of them are too small to feel.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), seismic hazards are “sources of potential harm or loss during earthquakes.” This includes natural phenomena like landslides and tsunamis, that are generated by the ground from shaking. Vulnerable buildings can run into a myriad of issues if they have not been properly retrofitting to endure the movements of earthquakes.

Earthquake Facts You Should Know

  • Most earthquake-related injuries occur from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects or debris.
  • Earthquakes are caused by the breaking and shifting of rock beneath the earth’s surface. The violent, ground-shaking effects of an earthquake can lead to building collapses, and they can often trigger landslides, flash floods, fires, and avalanches.
  • The National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) records an average of 20,000 earthquakes a year.
  • Each year, southern California experiences about 10,000 earthquakes.
  • The deadliest earthquake known hit Shansi, China in 1556. It is reported that approximately 830,000 people died.
  • Before an earthquake occurs, ponds and canals may give off a strange smell. This is caused by the release of gases underground.
  • An earthquake on the moon is called a moonquake.

How To Be Prepared Before, During and After an Earthquake

While earthquakes can be extremely challenging to predict, there are some things you can do to to keep your family or employees safe. Let’s look at some helpful tips to remember before, during, and after an earthquake occurs.

How To Prepare Before An Earthquake

If you’re concerned that your home or commercial building will not be able to withstand the seismic movement of the next big California earthquake, it may be time to contact a engineer. They will be able to conduct a thorough inspection of your property where they can recommend the best seismic retrofits for your structure. Depending on how and when your building was constructed, different parts of your home are likely vulnerable to earthquakes. For example, if your structure is not properly anchored to its foundation, or your home has a crawl space with weak walls, damage is bound to occur during the next big earthquake.

When an earthquake makes itself known, it’s important to prepare yourself, your family, and your coworkers to the best of your ability. Some tips to remember are:

  • React to the earthquake safely and calmly. Learn what to do during an earthquake, and if you feel it will be beneficial, consider holding periodic family drills to practice what you should do when an earthquake comes to town.
  • Take cover. The next time you have some free time at home, go from room to room and try to identify the safest place to drop, cover, and stay during an earthquake.
  • Your electricity, water, gas, and telephone connection will likely be disrupted during an earthquake. Make sure you have flashlights, bottled water, and a cell phone nearby the next time an earthquake hits California.
  • The major appliances in your home may move and shuffle with the seismic movement. To avoid injury or damages to your appliances, you may want to secure your water heater, laundry machine, and refrigerator to make sure they don’t topple over.
  • It’s always a practical idea to keep a supply of non-perishable foods in your home. Whether you choose to have canned or dehydrated food, powdered milk, or canned juices, these items will come in handy in the event of an earthquake.

What To Do During An Earthquake

When a big earthquake occurs, you’ll likely feel the sudden, rapid shaking of the earth beneath your home. This is caused by the breaking and shifting of subterranean rock underneath the ground. If you find yourself indoors the next time an earthquake visits California, be sure to:

  • Drop down on your hands and knees so the earthquake doesn’t knock you off of your feet. Cover your head and neck with your arms to protect yourself from falling debris, glass, or other harmful particulate.
  • If no sturdy shelter is nearby, do your best to crawl away from any windows. Also, try to avoid sitting under light fixtures, as they could easily fall and injure you.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings and be aware of any objects that could potentially fall and hurt you.

What To Do After An Earthquake

Once the shaking stops and you think the earthquake has ended, check yourself and your family or employees for any injuries that may need immediate attention. Be sure to look for hazards around your property as well, as there is a good chance your furniture has been shuffled and moved around. Some important things to keep in mind after an earthquake, include:

  • Checking for fire or fire hazards. If you smell gas after the earthquake has subsided, shut off the main gas valve to your structure. If you notice damage to electrical wiring, you will want to shut off the power to your control box as well.
  • Monitor local news reports via a battery operated radio or TV.
  • Be aware of any falling items from your cupboards or closets.
  • Check for cracks and damage in the roof and foundation of your building.
  • Notify all of your friends and family that you are safe.

Earthquake Safety Checklist

  • If you don’t already have one, you may want to consider investing in a portable, battery-powered radio or television with spare batteries. After an earthquake occurs, there’s a good chance that your telephone line, as well as many others, will be out of order for emergency purposes.
  • A first aid kit is key to have during any natural disaster. Keep a first aid kit and any other emergency reference materials such as a first aid book in your home, office, or car.
  • When an earthquake occurs, it can wreak havoc on the electrical system of your home or business. For this reason, it’s critical to keep a fire extinguisher or two nearby.

Consulting Engineers Corp: California’s Engineering Experts

If you live in California and you’re concerned that your commercial building, industrial space, or multi-unit housing develop won’t withstand the forces of the next big earthquake, it may be time to contact a engineer. At Consulting Engineers Corp, we’re proud to provide custom, seismic retrofit designs and implementation for a variety of organizations and building types. If you own a building that still needs to become compliant with our current seismic preparedness codes, we can help. Check out some of our past projects online, or contact our team today to schedule a consultation with one of our engineers.