Getting Ready For The Big One

A 4.0-magnitude earthquake was felt across Southern California in the early morning of Thursday, January 25.  The quake struck an area of the Santa Ana Mountains straddling Riverside and Orange counties, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  There were no recent reports of damage.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • The California Earthquake Authority and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services established a program in 2015 to help residents protect their homes from earthquake damage. Their Earthquake Brace & Bolt program provides homeowners up to $3,000 toward a retrofit, which has total costs between $3,000 and $5,000 on average.  Only certain types of homes in selected ZIP codes can qualify for the program.  Registration opened Tuesday and homeowners have until Feb. 23 to apply for a grant.
  • The California Earthquake Authority has provided $6 million in funding for the grants this year, enough to support an additional 2,000 or more code-compliant seismic retrofits. The program expanded eligibility this year to 17 additional cities, bringing the total to 51.  A complete list of ZIP codes is here.
  • More than 1.2 million houses in high-hazard areas of California are particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because of their construction, according to the CEA. These homes are typically built before 1979. Visit to see if you can apply.
  • Homes with qualifying retrofits are eligible for discounts of up to 20 percent on CEA earthquake insurance premiums.
  • If you have a mortgage, you must have homeowners insurance. But you do not have to buy earthquake insurance. By California law, fire damage from, or following, an earthquake is covered by homeowners insurance.
  • Earthquake policies range in price, so check out the California Earthquake Authority’s website for more information:

How to qualify

Home for retrofit

Houses that meet specifications are typically:

  • Wood-frame construction built before 1979.
  • Built on a level or low slope.
  • Constructed with a cripple wall under the first floor of 7 feet or less.
  • Built on a raised foundation.

process of retrofit

Examples of how an earthquake can damage your home

types of damageA few things you can do now

  1. Garage: Strap water heater to wall. If water heater falls during quake, it could cause a fire or you could lose an emergency water source. Store caustic and flammable liquids such as gas cans, paint thinners and weed killers in lower, child-proof cabinets. Know how to manually open electric garage doors.
  2. Kitchen: Prevent injuries and damage from falling plates and kitchenware by installing childproof locks on upper cabinet doors. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
  3. Dining room: Secure decorative pieces with floral clay or museum wax. Install locks on cabinet doors.
  4. Living room: Secure large paintings and bookshelves to walls. Secure TV.
  5. Bedrooms: Move beds if they are under windows. Do not hang paintings or other heavy objects over headboard. Make sure ceiling fan is securely bolted to a rafter. If an earthquake hits while you’re in bed, stay there and cover head with a pillow.
  6. Bathroom: Store flammable items like nail polish on lower shelves. After a quake, fill tubs and sinks with water for emergencies, especially if you have to leave without your pets.

areas of home

Source: Orange County Register

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