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Seismic Safety Tips for Homeowners

posted Mar 29, 2015, 7:14 PM by Terry Nagel

Here are some tips from our March 24 program, "Will Your Home Survive the Next Earthquake?" They were offered by our two speakers, Janiele Maffei, chief mitigation officer of the California Earthquake Authority, and Justin Moresco, a registered civil engineer who was part of a reconnaissance team that surveyed the damage following the South Napa earthquake last August.

Retrofit Tips for Homeowners

The magnitude 6.0 South Napa Earthquake last August was a stark reminder that some older homes—especially those with unbraced cripple walls, also known as weak crawl space walls—are susceptible to significant damage during earthquakes. However, many homes can be protected through relatively simple retrofit procedures costing less than $3,000. On the other hand, repairing damaged homes after large earthquakes can cost tens of thousands—or even hundreds of thousands—of dollars.

  • For more information on identifying and correcting structural vulnerabilities in homes, refer to the free document titled “Earthquake Safety Guide for Homeowners, FEMA 530” on Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website.
  • For details on bracing contents in homes and businesses, visit the Earthquake Country Alliance website.
  • To find a licensed contractor, visit the California Earthquake Authority’s “Earthquake Brace + Bolt” site and search on the “Contractor Locator” or check with the City of Burlingame’s Building Department.
  • To find a licensed structural engineer, check the “Structural Engineer Referral List” on the Structural Engineers Association of California’s website.
  • To make sure the contractor you hire is licensed in California, search on the “California State License Board” page on the Department of Consumer Affairs website.
  • Some of the ways people pay for retrofitting include refinancing your home, taking out an equity loan or participating in the CaliforniaFIRST program, which lets you finance seismic retrofitting as well as energy and water efficiency upgrades over time as part of your property tax payments. More information on CaliforniaFIRST financing will be available at the “Save Energy, Water and Money” program on Wednesday, April 29, at 7 p.m. in the Lane Room at the Burlingame Public Library; admission is free.
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