Earthquake Retrofit - Prepare your home for Earthquakes

You might not think you live in earthquake country, but at least 42 states are considered at moderate to very high earthquake risk. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming have all been hit with a 4.0 or above magnitude earthquake since 2003.

Lessons Learned
Some of the largest earthquakes have been in our backyard (California). You may recall seeing the news during the 1989 Loma Pieta earthquake in northern California, which measured 7.1 on the Richter scale. The destructive quake caused 63 deaths, 3,757 injuries and $6 billion in property damage. Five years later, southern California was hit with a major earthquake. The Northridge earthquake had a 6.7 magnitude and was felt for 2,000 square miles. The quake killed 60 people, injured 11,000, left 20,000 homeless and damaged more than 40,000 buildings.

The good news is that the industry has learned a great deal since these earthquakes occurred and has developed new construction methods that better equip homes to withstand a seismic event. We invite you to learn more about earthquakes, how they affect your home and what you can do to increase your home's earthquake resistance.

Building with a Continuous Load Path
Strengthening the structural frame of your house includes creating a "continuous load path" within your home. So what is a continuous load path? It's a method of construction that uses a system of wood, metal connectors, fasteners (like nails and screws) and shearwalls to connect the structural frame of the house together. A continuous load path is like a chain that ties the house together from the roof to the foundation.

A continuous load path is critical during an earthquake because it helps hold the house together when ground forces try to pull it apart. A home is more likely to withstand an earthquake and stay intact when all parts of the house – roof, walls, floors and foundation – are connected together.

Retrofit Your Home Right
Before starting a seismic retrofit project you'll need to inspect and evaluate the structural integrity of your home. Hiring a professional will help ensure the retrofit is done right. There are seismic improvements that you can do on your own to strengthen your home, however, some cases may require an engineer and contractor. Knowing what is needed from the beginning will set you on the right course to a safer, stronger home. Remember when hiring a retrofit specialist, be sure they are licensed and have a good reputation.

More on Earthquake protection at this website by Simpson StrongTie