WASHINGTON – Earthquakes strike without warning. The survival of the great may depend on how well prepared you are.
>> Earthquake of magnitude 2.5 near the coast
Washington State just released the Homeowners Guide to Earthquakes in Washington State to teach citizens how to prepare for quakes and protect their property.
The 28-page online brochure produced by the Washington Geological Survey also contains many facts:
▪ There are three types of earthquake: subduction zone, deep and shallow.
▪ Washington State’s first earthquake security building codes were passed in 1975.
▪ The last great one to hit Washington was in 1700.
This 1700 quake was in the Cascadia Subduction Zone and was believed to be the same magnitude (9.0) as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake off the coast of Japan. While these quakes occur offshore and inevitably bring with them tsunamis, quakes also hit Puget Sound and eastern Washington.
The 2001 Nisqually earthquake was 6.8 magnitude, caused severe damage from Olympia to Seattle, and injured hundreds of people.
Helpful for homeowners, the new brochure identifies and explains various building features that can be dangerous in the event of a quake. As the brochure makes clear, it is not a guide.
Wooden-framed buildings can spin in a quake, but survive. Unreinforced masonry is more unforgiving and more likely to collapse.
The brochure recommends the following, among other things:
▪ Anchor decks on houses.
▪ Secure propane tanks and water heaters.
▪ Attach wood stoves and hoods to floors and ceilings.
▪ Reinforce items around the house that could fall on children or vulnerable adults, such as televisions, large furniture, and even small but dangerous objects.
It’s not just what your home is made of, it’s where it’s located that makes a difference when it comes to damage. The 1989 San Francisco Bay Area quake provided ample evidence that different types of soil in the same environment can react differently to an earthquake.
In addition to surface fractures and vibrations, landslides, liquefaction and tsunamis are other earthquake-related hazards.
Although Washington’s Pacific Ocean coast remains most vulnerable to a quake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, Puget Sound is not immune to tsunamis. Even a Puget Sound quake can cause a tsunami, the brochure says.
Many centuries-old homes in west Washington now have newer chimneys – the result of the 1949 earthquake that destroyed stonework from that time. The brochure contains tips for checking the safety of your chimney.
As in any good earthquake safety guide, the booklet includes a checklist of over 20 items available for a post-earthquake survival kit. In addition to food, clothing, and first aid, less obvious items include sleeping bags and a tent, important documents, and pet food.
You can find the brochure at: dnr.wa.gov/publications/ger_homeowners_guide_earthquakes.pdf.