You know what they say…it isn’t if we will have an earthquake, it’s when.
Salt Spring is on the West Coast of Canada and there are earthquake fault lines up and down the coast of Canada as well as the United States so we are definitely vulnerable.
What to do?
You can try and see if you are able to secure your home to the foundation. Early construction may not have been well bolted to the foundation but later construction was better. Perhaps you can access some of the wooden “plates” that rest on the concrete. If so, drill through the wood and then the concrete (good drill and concrete bit needed for this). Then bolts into the concrete with substantial washers to retain the plate in case of an earthquake. If you have a post and pad construction instead of concrete foundation then you will definitely need to work at earthquake proofing your home. Here is a good link to help you. Earthquake proof your foundation
Next you can check out the trees around your home. Are any of them diseased or looking distressed. Are they close enough to fall on your house and cause considerable damage. Perhaps removing them would be a good idea…that also keeps your home more “fire proof” in the case of the nearby trees catching fire in dry weather.
Now go into your garage or storage shed and look at shelving. Is the shelving retained to the wall? Are boxes, tubs, etc. restrained in case of an earthquake. I use heavy duty bungee cords to stretch across the shelf supports and secure the tubs. Here’s an article that is useful. Earthquake proofing shelving
Another thing to look for is the soil and subsoil under the house. Rock is much better than being on soft soil, especially low terrain close to a water body that could liquify in an earthquake. Salt Spring is mostly rock so that’s good.
Now look inside the house. Is the shelving retained (screwed into the wall, not into drywall but into the studs)? Are heavy objects on the shelving on the lower shelves and lighter objects up higher? Check your ceiling light fixtures and make sure the globes or light covers are well secured. Sometimes they are just sitting there with the securing screws loose.
Look at where your bed is located and what is on the wall above the headboard or where you head would be located. Don’t have a heavy picture there unless you have made sure it is well secured and won’t come down on your head. Light fixtures sometimes have glass covers that just sit in place and are not secured as gravity holds them there. However, in an earthquake they won’t stay in place. Perhaps a more secure light fixture would be a good idea? Do you have a large TV in the bedroom? Best if it is secured to the wall, not sitting on a desk or dresser.
Your kitchen is another area to check out. Cupboard doors often open easily but if you have heavy glassware or dishes that would easily fall out in an earthquake then perhaps the cupboard doors could have a more secure fastening or the glasses and dishes could be stacked more securely. Often people like to put large and rarely used pots and dishes on top of cupboards where they don’t take up space inside cupboards. Problem is, they could come down in an earthquake and cause serious injury. Perhaps something lighter on top of the cupboards or perhaps nothing placed up there.
In the living room are all the cabinets secured to the wall (screws into studs, not drywall anchors). Tall pole lamps are not going to stay put in an earthquake so perhaps they need to be in a corner away from where people might sit. Family rooms often have a TV and this could be secured or at least be in an area where it couldn’t fall on someone.
OKAY, what next?
Well, now that you have checked out and earthquake proofed your home as much as possible, let’s look at your Earthquake kit. Earthquake and disaster supplies You should have enough food and water for at least a week and best to have enough for a lot longer. There are plenty of suppliers of freeze dried food and many of the canned foods are good for a couple of years. Don’t forget that the food is best stored somewhere fairly easy to reach. Perhaps store it in your garden shed or perhaps a garage.
I have a roll of heavy plastic and duct tape that can be used to cover over broken windows. Best to have that beforehand as the stores that have supplies will sell out very quickly following a disaster.
A First Aid kit is an essential! First Aid kit You may have one but when is the last time you checked to see if it is up to date. Hydrogen peroxide is no longer recommended for cuts so have some alcohol wipes or isopropyl alcohol. One of my sons was once silly enough to thrown a large heavy ball up in the air in his bedroom (after I had warned him not to) and the heavy light fixture shattered and the glass came down and cut open his face and just missed his eye (he was looking up, of course). Fortunately, a registered nurse with an extensive First Aid kit was nearby and she introduced me to “stitch tape”. A very important tape to have when you have a significant cut and you are a long ways from a doctor or hospital…and this happened in a remote part of B.C. I now have some “stitch tape” in the First Aid kit and I hope I never have to use it.
Do you have lots of fresh batteries? Batteries You may need to use a flashlight or other battery powered devices. I have an inverter that converts 12 volt DC (like in your car battery or RV battery) into 110 volts so you can charge your phone, etc. If you don’t have any LED bulbs, consider getting some as you could plug a lamp into the inverter but you want a lamp that uses as little power as possible and LEDs are what you want.
Candles and matches are essential as well. Emergency candles You may run out of electricity (that 12 volt battery will eventually go dead) and the candles are a reliable light source and even give a little bit of heat. You will want the stubby, thick emergency candles that are sold in boxes of 10 or 12.
How about a generator? Generators I have one that uses both gasoline and propane. Almost everyone has a propane tank or two for their barbeque so having a dual fuel generator is useful. Costco carries a number of those and I certainly like mine. I have never had to use it but it is ready to go and I run it about once a month for 30 minutes just to keep it running well. I only run it on propane as that is a cleaner fuel and gasoline does not store near as long as propane. Don’t forget to have the necessary power cords as well.
So what happens if your home is not habitable or you have large cracks in the roof. Well, that is why you should have several good quality tarps around. Great for covering stuff or even for emergency tenting. I probably sound like an ad for Costco but I find their tarps are the best and at a great price. Be warned, they sell out and are slow to be restocked. Tarps
Another useful thing to have is a good pocket knife. My Swiss army knife can open cans, bottles, has a corkscrew, toothpick tweezers, wire stripper and screwdriver. Very handy and you would be surprised at how often someone asks to borrow a pocketknife.
My earthquake kit also includes Isopropyl alcohol for disinfecting and bleach for sterilizing water and antiseptic cleaning of surfaces (not people!). Bleach is also useful for purifying water.
It doesn't hurt to have some cash as well. So much of our buying is done with "plastic" but when the power fails, the credit cards do as well. Have some small bills and rolls of "loonies" and "toonies". I went to my local Credit Union and stocked up and now the money is in a dresser drawer...just in case.
And of course, a few bottles of “medicinal alcohol” is a good idea….wine or hard liquor store well and one just might need a drink if an earthquake hits and you are without power for a long time.
Be prepared! It's a lot easier on your nerves knowing you have things well in hand rather than finding out you lack basic necessities when a disaster hits.