July 2018 Preparedness Checklist: Wood Frame Structures and Earthquakes

July 2018 Preparedness Checklist: Wood Frame Structures and Earthquakes

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From our Disaster Preparedness Program coordinator Sheryl Gerety (sheryl.gerety@gmail.com): a monthly, seasonally appropriate checklist page to help us tackle preparing for a disaster in manageable steps.

By 1978 Oregon building codes began to reflect the reality that we live in an earthquake prone region. Wood frame structures, whether single or multi-story, are prevalent in our diocese, and have been shown through observation and modeling techniques to survive even the severe shaking we can expect from a Cascadia event. Whether we own or rent, work in a downtown core or in rural settings, we can minimize the damage to our built environment, making clean-up less exhausting and dangerous. Taking steps means we are able to shelter in place after a seismic event, providing psychological relief as well as physical safety.

Earthquake Retrofit

  • Bolt foundation sills to a continuous foundation or tie with metal plates to counter side to side motion
  • Brace cripple walls with plywood
  • Tie vertical elements to foundation
  • Brace below living-space garages if needed
  • Exterior chimneys may need re-engineering
  • Interior masonry such as fireplace surrounds may need to be replaced
  • Install safety latches on kitchen cabinets
  • Save the wine by storing low to the ground, in wooden slots


  • Have an automatic shut-off valve installed at the point of entry of natural gas lines
  • Strap water heaters to wall studs
  • Consider installing a transfer switch/generator
  • Solar panels with transfer switch
  • Try to keep your gas tank 3/4 full (or at least 1/2 full)

Windows and Interior

  • Apply energy efficient film to windows preventing the glass from shattering
  • Strap TVs, desktop computers, microwaves to their shelves or desks
  • Change out mirror and picture hangers for safety hangers fastened to wall studs
  • Strap bookcases, armoires, vanity mirrors and the like to wall studs

Earthquake Insurance

  • Renters and home owners alike can purchase earthquake insurance
  • FEMA offers a cash settlement in a mass disaster but the payouts are relatively small, long after the event

At your bedside

  • Tie a pair of old shoes to the bedpost, children too
  • Eyeglasses, if needed
  • Work gloves

What we are reading:

Download the July 2018 Preparedness Checklist as a Word document.