it unless it has been strengthened in the last few years. They will check to see if it is strong enough to keep you and your family reasonably safe in a quake. For example: 1. When was your home built? ψ Before 1960 = 5 points ψ 1961–1978 = 3 points ψ After 1978 = 1 point 2. How tall is your home? ψ 2 or more stories with living area above a garage = 5 points tle slope = 6 points ψ Split level, on a hillside or gen the front door = 4 points ψ 1 story, 3 or more steps up to the front door = 1 point ψ 1 story, less than 3 steps up to to shake under your 3. How hard is the ground likely home? as yellow or green in ψ Portions of the Bay Area shown (page 8) = 5 points color on the shaking hazard map 7 points ψ Elsewhere in the Bay Area = • Does your home have enough bolts connecting the “sill plate” to the foundation? (See below) • Is there plywood on the inside surface of the crawl space extending from the sill plate to the base of the floor joist above to prevent the wall studs from collapsing? • Are there metal brackets connecting the rim joists to the top plates? • Is the ground floor a large open space lacking interior walls (weak or “soft” story)? • Are there large openings in the walls of the lower story, such as a garage door, that should be better braced? • Is your home a hillside house that was not adequately designed to withstand strong earthquake shaking? Once you determine if your home needs retrofitting, identify problems, prioritize how and when to fix them, and get started! The latest recommen-ETAL BRACKET dations of structural engineers, contractors, and city building officials who 2IM JOIST are experts on retrofitting 4OP PLATE are available on the ABAG web site at http://quake. TOTAL POINTS = If your home scores 13 or more points on the quiz, you probably should have an engineer, architect, or contractor evaluate it unless it has been strengthened in the past few years. &LOOR JOIST &LOOR JOIST -ETAL BRACKET 4OP PLATE 3TUD .AILS 0LYWOOD .AILS “OLT 24 3ILL PLATE Strengthening your crawl space The number of foundation bolts, linear feet of plywood, and floor-to-wall connections (brackets) that are required to seismically retrofit your home varies depending on its size and weight. Remember, earthquakes will find the weak spots in your house. So, if you add bolts but not plywood, you will still have a problem when the ground shakes! Follow the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety If you live in a condominium or apartment… Many condominiums and apartments have parking on the ground floor. These weak or “soft” first stories may lean or collapse in an earthquake. Some multi-story buildings in the Bay Area can have problems because they were constructed before 1972 of concrete or brick that is inadequately reinforced. Many cities have requirements that these buildings be seismically retrofitted. You are less likely to be killed in a retrofitted building, but you may not be able to reoccupy it after a quake. Don’t be fooled!— Myth number 5 The “soft” first story of this apartment building collapsed in the 1994 magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake, crushing cars below and severely damaging the floors above (FEMA photo). As a renter, ask your landlord these questions: • What measures have been taken to ensure the seismic safety of this building? • Have water heaters been strapped to the wall studs? • Can I secure bookshelves and furniture to the walls? Go to to take a quiz to see if your apartment building or condominium may need retrofitting. This Web site also has links to information that can help your landlord find appropriate ways to improve the strength of your building. If you live in a mobile home… Look under your home. If you only see a metal or wood “skirt” on the outside with concrete blocks or steel tripods or jacks supporting your home, you need to have an “engineered tie-down system” or an “earthquake-resistant bracing system” (ERBS) installed. An ERBS should have a label on the bracing that says, “Complies with the California Administrative Code, Title 25, Chapter 2, Article 7.5.” Mobile home damage in the 1980 magnitude 5.8 Livermore earthquake (photo courtesy NISEE). “WE HAVE GOOD BUILDING CODES, SO WE MUST HAVE SAFE BUILDINGS.” The best building code in the world does nothing for buildings built before the code was enacted. Although building codes used in California have some of the strictest seismic provisions in the world, many older buildings have not been “retrofitted” to meet updated codes. Retrofitting—fixing problems in older buildings—is the responsibility of a building’s owner. Brick chimneys can collapse if shaken… Stay away from chimneys and fireplaces during shaking! Collapsing chimneys cause many injuries in earthquakes— 60,000 chimneys fell in the 1994 magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake. You can reduce the chance of bricks falling through a sheetrock ceiling in a quake by putting sheets of plywood above ceiling framing. However, “retrofitting” masonry chimneys with bracing or strapping is not an effective safety measure, because they may still fall as a unit when exposed to strong shaking. This chimney broke and nearly fell in the 1969 magnitude 5.6 Santa Rosa earthquake (photo courtesy NISEE). Move on to STEP 5. 25 Ϡ What Should I Do? STEP 5—Protect Yourself During Earthquake Shaking T he previous pages have concentrated on getting you ready for future earthquakes in the Bay Area, but what should you do when the shaking starts? “DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON” If you are indoors, when you feel strong earthquake shaking, drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on to it firmly until the shaking stops. If you are indoors… • “DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON.” If you are not near a desk or table, drop to the floor against an interior wall and protect your head and neck with your arms. • Avoid exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances, and cabinets filled with heavy objects. • Do not go outside until well after the shaking stops! In bed Hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow. You are less likely to be injured staying where you are. Broken glass on the floor can cause injuries; be sure to put shoes on before stepping on the floor (see STEP 2, page 22)! In a high rise building DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON. Avoid windows and other hazards. Do not use elevators. Do not be surprised if sprinkler systems or fire alarms activate. At work DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON. Know your workplace’s earthquake safety plan and put it into action. When safe, move to a specified meeting location. In a public building or theater DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON if possible. If in a theater seat, duck down and protect your head and neck with your arms. Don’t try to leave until the shaking is over. Then walk out slowly, watching for fallen debris or anything that could fall on you in aftershocks. If you are outdoors… Move to a clear area if you can safely do so; avoid buildings, powerlines, trees, 26 and other hazards. Always assume fallen powerlines are live! Near tall buildings Windows, facades, and architectural details are often the first parts of a building to collapse. Get away from this danger zone when shaking starts. Take refuge in a safe building or an open space. Driving When able, safely pull over to the side of the road, stop, and set the parking brake. Avoid overpasses, bridges, powerlines, signs, trees, and other things that might collapse or fall on the vehicle. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over. If a powerline falls on the vehicle, stay inside until a trained person removes the hazard. Below a dam Dams can fail during a major earthquake. Catastrophic failure is unlikely, but if you are downstream from a dam, you should know flood-zone information and have prepared an evacuation plan. For more information go to the Association of Bay Area Governments Web site at http:// eqfloods/floods.html. Move on to STEP 6. Don’t be fooled!— Myth number 6 In a stadium Stay at your seat and protect your head and neck with your arms. Don’t try to leave until the shaking is over. Then exit slowly, avoiding debris and watching for anything that could fall in aftershocks. “HEAD FOR THE DOORWAY.” Near the shore Tsunamis from local earthquakes may flood low-lying coasts within minutes of the quake. Distant, large earthquakes can produce tsunamis that may arrive hours later at California’s beaches. If you feel a strong quake, hear a tsunami warning, or notice the water suddenly withdrawing from the beach, evacuate immediately to higher ground. Tsunami waves may continue to arrive for hours, so do not return to the shore until an “all clear message” has been issued. For more tsunami survival tips go to http:// In the early days of California, many homes were made of adobe bricks with wooden doorframes. After a powerful earthquake, doorframes were sometimes the only parts of these houses still standing. 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