The New Year is almost here, and many of us are trying to figure out what our New Year’s resolution should be. Maybe you want to walk more, eat healthier, or read more books.
Well, I have a suggestion … protect your home and your 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 an active fault? This means that residents in and around Bakersfield need to be aware of earthquake risk in the area. The San Andreas Fault is only about 40 miles from downtown Bakersfield, and large quakes from faults in the San Francisco Bay Area or east of the Sierra Nevada can cause powerful shaking and damage homes in our backyard. In 2019, two powerful quakes, magnitudes 6.4 and 7.1, struck the Kern County community of Ridgecrest, and the city of Trona in San Bernardino County. They were the biggest earthquakes in California in more than 20 years.
In 2023, homeowners should seriously consider making their homes more earthquake-resistant and less vulnerable to damage. California is earthquake country, and no one can predict when the next damaging quake will occur.
A retrofit, sometimes called a seismic retrofit, is the best way to strengthen your home and make it more resistant to earthquakes. Retrofits mean a stronger, safer home for you and your family, and they can help protect your belongings and the home that you have worked so hard for. Learn more about the importance of retrofitting your home at StrengthenMyHouse.com.
Certain types of homes are especially at risk
Certain types of homes in Bakersfield could be more at risk of earthquake damage, such as an older home built on a raised foundation, or a home with a living space above a garage, as well a home on a steep hillside. Different types of homes have unique weaknesses in their structure and need unique types of retrofits.
For example, raised foundation homes built before 1980 are more at risk to earthquake damage 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. This type of damage can often be prevented with a seismic retrofit.
Earthquakes can shake almost anything, even large or heavy items. What would happen if your entire home was suddenly shaken for a few minutes? Unsecured items like furniture could fall over, resulting in injury and damage to people and property. In the 1994 Northridge quake, most injuries were due to unsecured furniture or objects falling (according to a study from UCLA). A lot of damage could have been avoided if only simple safety steps had been taken ahead of time!
More than 15,000 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? Talk to your family, your friends, and your neighbors about the importance of earthquake preparedness, and resolve to strengthen your house in the New Year.
What can you do right now to protect your home?
• Check out the “Resources” page at StrenghtenMyHouse.com — educate yourself about earthquake risk in your area and 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.
Earthquakes in California are inevitable, but the damage they cause is preventable
Bakersfield is vulnerable to earthquakes, but there are steps you can take to strengthen your property. Even though a seismic retrofit does not guarantee your home won’t be damaged, it can make your home stronger and more resilient to earthquakes. This means a safer home for you and your family.
Take a moment and consider, what is the most important thing in your life? For many of us, the answer is easy — our family. With all the craziness in the world today, people understand more than ever that a strong, safe home is the best way to protect and nurture our family. This year, resolve to retrofit your home. Protect your family, strengthen your home, and safeguard all the things you have worked so hard for.
Have a safe and happy New Year!
Glenn Pomeroy is chief executive officer of the California Earthquake Authority.