Earthquake Home Hazard Hunt FEMA 528 9/2005
Recommendations for reducing earthquake hazards in your home
are presented on the other side of this poster.
Earthquake Home Hazard Hunt Hanging Objects ➌
Prevent wall hangings from bouncing off walls:
n Secure mirrors, pictures, plants, and other objects on closed hooks.
Take Action To Protect Yourself and
Your Family From Earthquakes
n Secure the bottom corners with earthquake putty or adhesive pads.
Correcting Problems n Place only soft art such as tapestries over beds and sofas. Create and Practice Your Disaster Preparedness Plan
An emergency preparedness plan includes life-critical actions, life saving
Utilities ➐ Home Electronics ➊ 13 training, and the advance plans to enable you to respond to earthquakes and
Teach responsible members of your family how to turn off electricity, gas, and potential physical injuries and hazards no matter where you are.
Electronics are heavy objects and
water at main switch and valves. Caution: Do not shut off gas unless an emergency costly to replace. Secure TVs, stereos, Life-Critical Actions – Learn how to:
exists. If gas is ever turned off, a professional must restore service. Contact your computers, and microwaves with n Drop, cover, and hold.
local utilities for more information. earthquake-resistant flexible nylon n Signal for help, if you are trapped somewhere. Teach children and adults to
Label the water shut-off valve, found where water enters the house. Also the main straps and buckles for easy removal use an emergency whistle and/or to knock three times repeatedly if trapped.
water shut-off valve, found with the meter in a concrete box in the sidewalk or yard. and relocation (see Figure D). Rescuers searching collapsed buildings will be listening for sounds.
Life Saving Training – Consider training in:
Weak Crawlspace Walls ➒ n First Aid
Wooden floors and stud walls Figure D. Securing home electronics. n CPR
are sometimes built on top of an n How to use a fire extinguisher
exterior foundation to support n How to shut off gas, water, and electricity
a house and create a crawlspace.
Your Disaster Preparedness Plan Should Include:
These walls carry the weight In the Kitchen ➓ 11 12 n Disaster Supplies Kits for home, workplace, and car
of the house. During an earth-
Cabinet doors, refrigerators, and n Practicing Drop, Cover, and Hold
quake, these walls can collapse if
gas appliances should be secured n Financial Plan
they are not braced to resist hori-
so that they will not move or fall n Family Communications Plan that each family member understands
zontal movement. If the walls fail,
over during an earthquake. n Needs for all family members, including children, seniors, and pets
the house may shift or fall.
n First, secure all cabinets above Financial Plan
You can look under your house waist level securely to the wall You should store your family’s documents, such as insurance policies, deeds,
in the crawlspace to see whether studs. property records, birth certificates, and other important papers, in a safe
there are any wood stud walls place away from your home (e.g., safety deposit box). Make copies of impor-
n Use latches designed for
supporting the first floor. Check Figure A. Strengthening weak crawlspace walls. tant documents for your disaster supplies kit.
This poster has information for you and your family to help you find and fix areas to see whether the stud walls are earthquake, child-proofing, or
boat safety to keep cabinet doors Consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used
of your home that might be damaged in an earthquake and that might injure braced with plywood panels or diagonal wood sheathing. If your house has neither in any crisis. Back up critical files on your computer and keep a copy in a safe
family members during an earthquake. Information is also provided on planning of these, the wood stud crawlspace walls are probably insufficiently braced or are from flying open and contents
place away from your home.
for an earthquake and safety steps you can take during and after an earthquake. unbraced. Please note that horizontal or vertical wood siding is not strong enough falling (see Figure E).
Your earthquake home hazard hunt should begin with all family members par- to brace wood stud crawlspace walls. n Have a plumber install flexible Create Your Disaster Supplies Kit
connectors on gas appliances. Because you don’t know where you and your family will be when an earth-
ticipating. Foresight, imagination, and common sense are all that are needed as Plywood or other wood products allowed by code should be nailed to the studs (see
you go from room to room imagining what would happen if the earth and house quake occurs, prepare a Disaster Supplies Kit for your home, workplace, and
Figure A) to strengthen your foundation. The type of wood product used, the plywood
Figure E. Securing cabinet doors and draws. car. For detailed information about the items that should be included in your
started shaking. Anything that can move, break, or fall when your house starts to thickness, and nail size and spacing are all important when making this upgrade. disaster supplies kit, refer to FEMA 526, Earthquake Safety Checklist.
shake is a potential hazard.
Many other types of foundation walls are used in the United States that may Furniture ➎
need upgrading to resist earthquake damage. Check with your local Building Family Earthquake Drill
What would happen to heavy furniture, fixtures, and appliances? Follow these important guide- It’s important to know where you should go for protection when your house
Department or a licensed architect or engineer for recommendations on how
n Look at tall bookcases and shelves. How much would fall off the shelves? to determine whether your foundation and walls are likely to be damaged in lines: starts to shake. By planning and practicing what to do before an earthquake
Would the whole bookcase topple, or is it anchored to the wall? an earthquake and what upgrades may be needed. Check with local officials for n Secure all tall, top-heavy occurs, you can condition yourself and your family to react correctly and
Anchor bookcases and other top-heavy furniture to wall studs using flexible furniture such as bookcases, spontaneously when the first jolt or shaking is felt. An earthquake drill can
permit requirements before starting work.
fasteners (e.g., nylon straps) and lag screws. ➎ wall units, and entertain- teach your family what to do in an earthquake.
n Prevent refrigerators, washers, and other heavy appliances from moving by Remember, it is very expensive to lift a house, repair the foundation and walls, and ment centers (see Figure F). n Each family member should know safe spots in each room.
blocking the rollers. 12 put it back on its foundation, while upgrading before an earthquake will be much Attach them securely to the n Safe spots: The best places to be are under heavy pieces of furniture, such as
less costly. wall studs with straps.
n Add bracing to support air conditioners, particularly on rooftops. a desk or sturdy table; under supported archways; and against inside walls.
n Secure the top, on both the n Danger spots: Stay away from windows, hanging objects, mirrors,
n Do you have hanging light fixtures or plants? Could they swing and hit a window Garages With Living Spaces Above ➋
or swing off their hooks? As a minimum precaution, transfer hanging plants from right and left sides of the fireplaces, and tall, unsecured pieces of furniture.
heavy clay pots to lighter ones and used closed hooks on all hanging items. ➏ The large opening of unit, into wall studs, not just n Reinforce this knowledge by physically placing yourself in the safe
a garage door and the into the drywall. locations. This is especially important for children.
Check for possible flying glass. weight of a second-story n Use flexible mount
n In the days or weeks after this exercise, hold surprise drills.
room built over the fasteners such as nylon
n Replace glass bottles in the medicine cabinet and around the bathtub and garage can result in the n Be prepared to deal with what you may experience after an earthquake
shower with plastic containers. straps to allow furniture
garage walls being too independent movement — both physically and emotionally.
n What kind of latches are on your kitchen cabinets? Consider replacing weak to withstand earth- n Following the drop, cover, and hold procedure is the best way to be safe
from the wall, reducing the
magnetic “touch” latches with ones that will hold the cabinet doors shut during quake shaking, resulting during an earthquake.
strain on studs.
an earthquake. In some cases, a lip or low barrier across shelves may prevent in severe damage. If the
n Secure loose shelving by n Take cover under a sturdy desk, table, or bench and hold on to the desk
breakables from sliding out. 11 narrow sections of the wall
applying earthquake putty or table leg so that desk or table stays on top of you. Hold on until the
n Where do you sit or sleep? Anchor heavy mirrors and pictures over beds, chairs, on each side of the garage
on each corner bracket. earthquake shaking stops.
and couches with wire through eye screws into studs. Locate beds away from door opening are not
n Store heavy items and n Family members should practice drop, cover, and hold in the safe spots
windows. ➌ reinforced or braced, the
potential for earthquake breakables on lower shelves. Figure F. Securing top-heavy furniture. that you and your family have identified.
Think about fire safety. damage is greater.
n Remove all flammable liquids, such as painting and cleaning products, to the Look at the area around
garage or outside storage area. Be sure these items are secured on their shelves the garage door opening Figure B. Strengthening garage walls below living space.
Water Heaters ➑ ➓
or stored away from heat sources and appliances, particularly your water heater – are there braces or Water heaters should be For more information about earthquake preparedness and safety, refer to the
and furnace. plywood panels? If not, strengthening may be needed. Consult a licensed archi- braced (see Figure G). There following publications, which are available from the FEMA Distribution Facility
n Secure gas lines by installing flexible connectors to appliances. ➓ tect or engineer to determine the strengthening required to upgrade your garage are many solutions – all rela- at 1-800-480-2520. As noted, some are available for download from the
walls. Your home may need to have plywood paneling or a steel frame designed tively inexpensive. FEMA website.
n Is your water heater secured? Metal straps can be used to fasten your water
and installed around the door opening (see Figure B). Remember to obtain a After Disaster Strikes: How to recover financially from a natural disaster,
heater to the wood studs of the nearest wall. ➑ Purchase and install a strap kit
permit from your local Building Department before starting work. FEMA 292. Available in both English and Spanish.
or bracing kit from your local
What would happen to the house itself? hardware store. Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness, IS-22, August
Chimney Bracing ➍ 2004. Full publication and individual sections available online in both English
n Look at the outside of your home. What about your chimney? Masonry Other options include: and Spanish at http://fema.gov/preparedness/prepare_guides_links.shtm.
chimneys pose a real hazard in earthquakes, especially the freestanding section To prevent the chimney from Before Disaster Strikes: How to make sure you’re financially prepared to deal
n Have a licensed plumber
above the roof line, as bricks may fall into the house. ➍ breaking away from the house, with a natural disaster, FEMA 291, May 1997. Available in both English and
you should have it secured to the strap your water heater
n Check your roof. Make sure all tiles are secured – loose tiles could fall. according to code. Spanish.
framing of the roof with sheet Earthquake Safety Checklist, FEMA 526, August 2005.
n Check foundation for loose or cracked plaster. metal straps and angle bracing n Use heavy metal strapping
n Secure the wood sill and wall framing to the foundation using anchor bolts. and screws to secure the Earthquake Safety Guide for Homeowners, FEMA 530, September 2005.
(see Figure C). If your roof
water heater to the wall Food and Water in an Emergency, FEMA 477, August 2004. Available online in
n Sheath crawlspace walls with plywood to prevent collapse. ➒ doesn’t have solid sheathing,
studs. both English and Spanish at http://fema.gov/preparedness/prepare_guides_
Strengthen connections between posts and beams with bracing. consider adding plywood panels
above the ceiling joists. Have the The gas and water lines
With your powers of perception more finely tuned, you may wish to extend these Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and Special Needs, FEMA
chimney inspected by a profes- should have flexible connec-
suggestions to your workplace. Check to determine whether your company has an 476. August 2004. Available online in both English and Spanish at
sional to determine whether the tor pipes. These are safer than http://fema.gov/preparedness/prepare_guides_links.shtm.
earthquake safety plan. chimney should be upgraded or rigid pipes during an earth- Visit the FEMA website at http://www.fema.gov/hazards/earthquakes/ for
Children can share their new awareness in the classroom. Determine whether replaced. quake. Be sure to check the Figure G. Securing water heaters. information about the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP)
their school has a practical earthquake plan, whether earthquake drills are held, straps once a year. They may and more ways to address earthquake risks.
and what the policy is if an earthquake occurs while school is in session. Figure C. Bracing masonry chinmeys. come loose as a result of vibrations or other causes.