Much of the Golden State, including our area, is known for frequent earthquakes, and while most are small and go unnoticed, the potential for a major earthquake in our area remains year-round. Since earthquakes can strike without notice at any time of the day or night and in any weather, it makes sense to take some precautionary steps and prepare your home rental for the next inevitable “big one” to hit.
If you grew up and went to school in our area, you probably remember those random earthquake drills where you learn about what to do if an earthquake is happening. It usually consisted of getting under your desk, covering your head and neck, and waiting until the shaking stops. Hopefully, you’ll never have to seek shelter in your home rental from an earthquake, but you’ll know what to do if one occurs.
What probably wasn’t covered were the steps that should be taken before an earthquake occurs. Fortunately, whether you are the home owner, or the property management company, you can find a lot of resources for preparing for earthquakes, including free information from PG&E, Red Cross, USGS, and Ready.gov, among others. Each site has some important tips for preparing for, making it through, and recovering from a major earthquake. We’ll focus on the preparation part here, since preparation will help you through the event itself and help you recover safer and more quickly.
The immediate threat in an earthquake is the likelihood of falling debris, whether that be fixtures, furniture, or entire buildings. Prepare for this by anchoring tall furniture (bookcases, china cabinets) and appliances (water heaters) to the wall to prevent them from falling over. In the case of water heaters, California building code require that water heater tanks be double-strapped and that flexible gas lines are used. If a major quake occurs, keep in mind that emergency services are going to be very busy, so you may have to fend for yourself for a little while.
You should have an emergency kit prepared in your home rental containing, at the minimum, three days of food and water, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, a radio, a flashlight and batteries, charging devices for your phone, family, friends and emergency contacts, and a whistle. If you have pets, make sure you’ve made some preparations for them, too, such as food, water, and shelter. Don’t forget any special needs, such as medications for both you and your pets. Consider preparing smaller kits for your car or work. Remember, the preparation done BEFORE an earthquake strikes are what will determine your quality of life during the recovery.