Week 14 – Earthquake Preparedness – Household Appliances & Outside of our Homes

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The time to prepare is NOW – once the big one STRIKES it will be too late.  Your family is counting on you! 
Answering your Earthquake Preparedness Questions

By Jackie Kloosterboer – Speaker, Trainer, 

Author – My Earthquake Preparedness Guide 

QUESTION:  How safe will your family be both inside and outside your home during and after an Earthquake?

We all have them – but when it comes to Earthquake Preparedness we just don’t think about them. What am I referring to is your family’s home appliances.

 Over the last few weeks we have looked at a number of steps you can take to make your home better able to withstand an earthquake. This week serves as a reminder that our appliances need to be secured in place and that we also need to look at the outside of our home.  You need to ensure you take the required steps to secure your appliances to better protect your family, your pets and your home. 

I am not sure why but our appliances tend to get ignored when preparing our homes for earthquakes.  I believe it’s because we really don’t know what to do with them.  They are big – they are awkward – some are connected to gas making it even more important we get them secured. 
Because where we live varies tremendously, the types of appliances we have from home to home varies making it next to impossible for me to go step by step through the process to secure your appliances – but I can certainly point out what you need to consider.  Generally speaking – our appliances need to be secured and there are a number of ways you can do that so you family and pets will be better protected during an earthquake.
When the ground starts shaking your appliances can come to life (so to speak) and can even break free and dance across the room injuring your family and pets and unnecessary damaging your home. If your appliances are connected to gas this can be an even greater risk if they break free?  Now on top of everything else you have a gas leak!

To secure your fridge, freezer, stove, washer, dryer water cooler and any other appliances you may have, ensure you use strong strapping, anchor bolts or other connectors to secure them to the cement floor or to wall studs.  What you use will depend on the type of home you live in and where you appliances are located. Remember your fridge may be on wheels and if the earth starts moving your fridge could be a dangerous weapon injuring or trapping your family and pets.
If you are unsure or unable to secure your appliances hire a licensed contractor to help secure them or talk to the experts at your Hardware store. There is also information online that you can follow to secure your appliances.  www.survive-it.caprovides some helpful links.
Your Hot Water Tank is another area for concern and like your appliances it needs to be secured.  When the earth starts moving and your hot water tank topples over – not only do you have the earthquake to deal with you are also facing an unnecessary flood that can cause significant damage.  Securely strapping your Hot Water Tank is not difficult to do. I would recommend visiting your utility company’s website and follow their directions. They are the experts!  You should also attach a label or tag to your Hot Water Tank showing the on and off positions making it easy to turn them off if necessary.  

Outside your Home

Outside your home I encourage you to do a walk about and identify potential hazards that you need to have repaired.  A few to look for are:

Roof Shingles:  If you find lose roof shingles these need to be repaired so they will stay in place during an earthquake.

Home Foundation:  If you live in an older home check to ensure it is securely fastened to the foundation. If you home is not properly secured to the foundation it can fall off when the earth starts moving. Unless you are an expert in this area I would have a licensed contractor to inspect your home.
Chimneys:  Chimneys are one of the biggest causes of damage in an earthquake as they can easily topple – and quite often it’s simply because they were never checked prior to the earthquake. Ensure your chimney doesn’t have lose bricks. You should also make sure the attic near your chimney has been reinforced with plywood to help prevent chimney bricks from falling into your living areas? If your chimney is very old it is worthwhile having a licensed contractor inspect it.
Masonry Work:  Check all your brick, stone and masonry facades around your home and insure they are securely attached your house
Windows:  Inspect your windows to see if they are safety glass.  You can apply a film to windows which doesn’t prevent the window from breaking but it will prevent the glass from flying across the room.
Gas Metre:  I am truly amazed how many people don’t know where their gas metre is located outside their home.  If you are one of those people make sure you find it. All responsible family members need to know how and when to turn off the gas. 

It’s important to know that you don’t turn gas off unnecessarily – if you turn it off  you cannot turn it back on – you need a licensed gas person to do that. 

Just because we have an earthquake does not mean you need to turn off your gas. Only turn the gas off if you smell the rotten egg smell or you hear the hissing noise escaping gas makes. Remember life safety is always your first priority. If in doubt – evacuate you house. 

Keep a wrench near your gas metre so it’s easy to turn it off when necessary. Some people attach a wrench to the metre while others prefer to keep their wrench on a shelf in their garage. Either way works well. Check with your local gas company for additional details on gas.
Garages:  Garages and other storage areas – Ensure you didn’t have dangerous chemicals kept in glass bottles. If they topple over and break this could be a disaster. Often what I see when doing In-Home Walk–Through is people have their Home Kits safely stored away in their garage with their weed killers and other chemicals stored on the shelf above. When the earth starts moving and these toxic substances topple over they could compromise your earthquake kits. Also keep a clear path to your kits and supplies. 

Like inside your home make sure you don’t have items that can come toppling down from high shelves. Make sure boxes on shelves are properly secured.
Breaker Panel:  Show each responsible family member where your breaker panel is located and teach them how to use it.  Identify where the main breaker is that will cut all power to your home. In a house the Breaker Panel will often be in the basement and in an apartment often they are located in the bedrooms.

You’re Task for Week #14

  1. Ensure your appliances are properly secured. Do it yourself or hire a contractor.
  2. Walk around the outside of your house and identify what tasks you need to do to make your home safer for you, your family and pets. 
  3. Make sure all responsible family members know how and when to shut off the gas and also the location of your main breaker panel.

      I encourage all of you to take the necessary steps and make sure you appliances are securely fastened in place and that the outside of your home is safe.  The fact is – we just don’t know where we will be when facing an earthquake. The steps you take today could protect your family and pets when the “Big One” strikes. Your family and pets are counting on you.
      Week 15 we will look at Insurance and why you are encouraged to make sure you and your family have insurance. 

      Have questions – don’t hesitate to ask. Until next week – Stay safe and make sure you, your family and pets are prepared for earthquake or any disaster that may come your way.

      Jackie Kloosterboer – BIO
      Jackie Kloosterboer has been leading the way in earthquake preparedness for 2 decades presenting more than 100 Earthquake Preparedness sessions each year to a variety of groups and businesses. She is often interviewed by a variety of media outlets across Canada as she promotes the importance of earthquake and disaster preparedness.
      As an Emergency Preparedness Specialist and an Instructor with the Justice Institute of BC Jackie travels across Canada teaching people how to respond to disasters to help those who have been displaced. Throughout British Columbia Jackie has taken on leadership roles assisting those who have been impacted by disaster.

      Contact Jackie to speak at your next group or business event to help you, your family, your staff and pets get prepared for earthquakes or whatever disaster comes your way. Jackie will lead you through the necessary steps helping you identify what is important to you and your family or business.  

      Contact Jackie with any questions or to book her for your next event at jackie@survive-it.ca or call (604) 355-2414

      Jackie is available for:

      Earthquake Preparedness Presentations
      Preparedness Plans
      In-Home Walk-Throughs
      Preparedness Kits
      Media Interviews

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