Utility Shut Offs -
Everyone should know where and how to turn off all utilities to your home. We will often see these shutoff locations inaccessible. Never block a gas meter shutoff valve, water shutoff or breaker panel! In an emergency you must be able to shut these off or risk fire, explosion, electrocution, serious water damage or even death.Water -
The main shutoff for most homes is sometimes hard to find. Since these valves are rarely used they will often leak when you turn them off. For these reasons, we recommend that you locate your main shutoff at your water meter.
This valve is usually under a cover near the sidewalk or at the edge of the road. Open this cover and look for the valve, you will need a tool to turn this off. There are a couple types of valves, so it is important to look at yours and make sure you have the proper tool to turn off the water.
Most of then can be turned with an adjustable wrench, similar to the valve on a gas line. Others may require a special tool available at your local hardware store. If you are on a well, familiarize yourself with the equipment in your pump house so you know how to turn off the pump and water valves.
Natural Gas -
If you ever smell a strong odor of gas (rotten egg smell) shut off the gas immediately, turn off the electricity (this can prevent explosions or fire) and open all the doors and windows. Call 911 for the fire department and the gas company to locate and isolate the gas leak.
If your home has a fuse box there will sometimes be a shut off above or beside the box. If there is no shut off, then unscrew each fuse and lay them out in the same pattern as they were in the box. This is so you can replace each fuse in the proper location and not mix up the amperages of the circuits. Most older homes also have 2 or more pull out fuse holders, so remove these also.
Hot Water Heaters -
Anchor bolts -
Another option is to have seismic anchors attached to the sill plates and bolted into the foundation. This type of retrofit can not only strengthen the home, but may make you eligible for a reduction in homeowners earthquake insurance rates.
Pony Walls -
Most homes only have diagonal wood bracing, and this is often not strong enough to resist collapse. Shear walls have plywood nailed to them as in the diagram below.
Post to Beam Connections, Joist Hangers
More Information and Videos -
These videos by Mark Benthien-Director of Communication, Education, and Outreach, Southern California Earthquake Center have some great tips on earthquake preparedness and survival
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