Is Your Home Prepared for An Earthquake?


The recent earthquake in Turkey has been devastating. It is a reminder that earthquark can be deadly. Our San Francisco Bay Area is criss-crossed by a series of major faults.  The San Andreas Fault and 6 other Bay Area fault zones are on both sides of the bay: San Gregorio fault zone, Hayward fault zone, Franklin fault, Green Valley fault zone, Moraga fault, San Jose fault and Monte Vista-Shannon fault zone.

Because the USGS can’t predict exactly when one of these faults will experience a major shift, it’s important now to make your home a safe place to ride out an earthquake and its aftermath.


Start your prep by reading these earthquake readiness tips, compiled from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, PG&E, and California Earthquake Authority websites.

San Francisco Bay Area Fault lines

Check and Prep Your Structure

Hopefully your home was checked for earthquake safety before you purchased it or moved in. Things you and a licensed inspector should look for include:

  • Is the structure anchored to the foundation?
  • How strong are the crawl space walls?
  • Does the structure have braced pier-and-post foundations?
  • Is there unreinforced masonry? Is the chimney braced?


Strap Down Heavy Hazards Within Your Home

Anything big and bulky can tumble during a tremblor and cause major damage to life and property. Walk through your home and look for hazards that need to be strapped or braced, including:

  • Bookcases
  • Televisions
  • Water heaters
  • Gas appliances
  • Air conditioners

Prevent Smaller Objects from Crashing Down

  • Avoid hanging heavy mirrors or pictures on the walls over beds.
  • Use museum putty to secure big decorative objects on shelves.
  • Use latches to keep cabinet doors from flying open and spilling their contents

Practice Earthquake Drills

  • Locate the safest places to “drop, cover, and hold on.” If no shelter is nearby, note the best interior walls (away from windows) to huddle against.
  • Do you know where and how to shut off the gas, electricity, and water to your home? Gas leaks from pipe ruptures are the major cause of fires after quakes.
  • Does your family have a communications plan? Designate a meeting place in case you are separated. And have the phone number of an out-of-state relative or friend you can call in case local phone lines go down.


Pack an Earthquake Survival Kit

Is your home ready for an earthquake

Store your disaster kit in a dry, cool place and make sure everyone in your household knows its location. Suggested items:

  • Water – One gallon per person per day for at least three days
  • Food – Non-perishable and enough for at least three days
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Can opener
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
  • Pet food
  • Prescription medications and non-prescription meds such as pain relievers
  • Eye glasses or contact lens solution
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, etc.
  • Emergency cash
  • A list of addresses, phone numbers, and evacuation sites for all places frequented by family members. Include the phone number of an out-of-state contact you all can call in case local lines go down.
  • Copies of important documents such as insurance policies
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies
  • Extra clothes and sturdy shoes
  • Household chlorine bleach to disinfect water

Install an Earthquake Warning App

And, finally, install the new smartphone app MyShake, which delivers ShakeAlerts across California.

The app was created at the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory and works with the California Earthquake Early Warning Program to alert residents the moment researchers detect a quake over magnitude 4.5.

Graphical user interface, text, application Description automatically generated

The system relies on ground motion sensors located throughout California to detect tremors before humans can feel them. The alerts will give people a second to tens of seconds to take potentially life-saving action.

Most major cellphone carriers also will send the messages via Wireless Emergency Alerts, which are used for extreme weather, Amber Alerts, and other emergencies.

If you still have questions about whether you and your home are ready for a rumble, state and federal agencies have a wealth of resources, including this Earthquake Preparedness Checklist from American Red Cross. 

Compare listings