Resolve to be ready for a quake

The new year is here, and many of us are trying to figure out what our resolution should be. Maybe you want to walk more, eat healthier or read more books.

Considering the recent damaging magnitude 6.4 earthquake in Humboldt County, and the magnitude 3.6 quake that rattled the Bay Area a few days before that, I have a suggestion: protect your home and family from earthquakes with a seismic retrofit.

Did you know that California has more than 500 active faults and that most Californians live within 30 miles of one of them? The greater Bay Area sits on top of three major faults, and scientists say there is a 72% chance of a magnitude 6.7 or greater quake in the near future.

The Bay Area is earthquake country, and everyone should protect their homes and families with a seismic retrofit, secure heavy objects in their home and have an emergency plan just in case.

A retrofit is the best way to strengthen your home and make it more resistant to earthquakes. Retrofits can help protect your belongings and the home you have worked so hard for. Learn more at

Certain types of homes could be more at risk of earthquake damage, such as an older home built on a raised foundation, a home with a living space above a garage or a home on a steep hillside.

For example, raised foundation homes built before 1980 are more at risk because they were built before modern building codes were put in place. The frames of these older houses are often not bolted to their foundations, and the walls surrounding crawl spaces (cripple walls) may lack bracing. These homes can slide or topple off their foundation during an earthquake, which can be expensive to repair.

Earthquakes can shake even large or heavy items. What would happen if your entire home was suddenly shaken? Unsecured items like furniture could fall over, resulting in injury and damage to people and property. In the 1994 Northridge quake, a UCLA study found, most injuries were due to unsecured furniture or objects falling. A lot of damage could have been avoided if only simple safety steps had been taken ahead of time.

More than 17,000 Californians have protected their families, their homes and their belongings with a seismic retrofit. But there are still about 1.2 million vulnerable homes in California that have not yet had a seismic retrofit. Has yours?

What can you do to protect you home?

— Check out the “Resources” page at — learn how to protect your home and your family this coming year.

— Know how to turn off the gas or learn if you should have an automatic gas shut-off valve installed that is triggered by strong vibrations.

— Place beds away from windows.

— Brace overhead light fixtures.

— Secure top-heavy furniture to studs.

— Brace water heaters with metal straps attached to studs.

The Bay Area is vulnerable to earthquakes, but there are steps you can take to strengthen your property. A seismic retrofit does not guarantee your home won’t be damaged, but it can make your home more resilient to quakes. This year, resolve to retrofit your home.

Glenn Pomeroy is CEO of the California Earthquake Authority, the largest earthquake insurance provider in the United States.

You can send letters to the editor to [email protected].

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