Photo: This home in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California, collapsed in the 1989 magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake (USGS photo).

Earthquakes have enormous power, both in its unpredictable energy and destruction.  While we can’t control the former, our readiness and preparedness can possibly save our home and most importantly, our lives.

In light of the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, the reality of the aftermath of any seismic activity as minor as a 5.0 can be quite daunting (see chart below). “The first thing to do is to have the property inspected by an experienced property inspector or structural engineer, ” states John A. LaRocca, Inspector Member of the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) and a licensed general contractor. It is important that you know your property has been recently approved to be structurally sound.

Next, place these 5 ways to earthquake proof your home to memory by using the acronym S.H.A.K.E.:

• S=Secure all tall and heavy objects including book cases, entertainment consoles, flat screen TVs, cabinets, mirrors, etc.

• H=Hire professionals to complete structure-related repairs to insure work is done to earthquake code requirements.  According to an article at, “All construction work should be done by a skilled mason, carpenter and blacksmith etc. Proper curing should be done during construction work for maximum strength of building.”

• A=Attach water heater with a proper brace.  Learn how water can be drained and used for drinking and cooking.

• K=Know where gas lines, electrical, and water shut-off valves are located.  Knowledge of how to operate these vital services is critical and can prevent additional damage and harm.  Keep necessary tools handy and available. *Note:  Seismic shut-off valves can be installed on main gas lines for added protection.

• E=Examine hazards outside your home such as old, leaning trees and large branches, electrical and power lines, balconies that look irregular and cantilevered.  Left  neglected, devastating results could occur during and after a quake.

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