Earthquake Preparedness Tips to Use at your Property

Recent and frequent earthquakes around the U.S. should get property managers to start thinking about preparedness measures.

Moderate temblors are hitting areas relatively new to seismic activity, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Already in 2015, North Texas has been hit by unprecedented earthquake activity. On Jan. 6, a flurry of small quakes struck the Dallas/Fort Worth region and rattled many homes and businesses in the area.  One quake measuring at 3.6 in magnitude made the U.S. Geological Survey’s most current “Significant Earthquakes” lists.

Since New Year’s Day, 11 earthquakes have since hit North Texas, which is far from the historic epicenters that rock the western U.S. The shaky activity arrived just six days before the five-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti that killed more than 200,000 people. The catastrophic event caused $8 billion in economic losses.

This is a reminder that many areas of the country or  the world could be at risk of unexpected quakes. Because of this, preparedness for any kind of seismic activity can go a long way for both residents and properties. Ready.gov offers several tips to help protect families and property from earthquakes. Here are some and how they could be applied to multifamily communities:

Fix leaky connections and electrical wiring to minimize fire risk

Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections on structures to prevent potential fire. Install flexible pipe fittings, which are more resistant to breakage, to avoid gas or water leaks. Your gas company may recommend installing an automatic gas shut-off valve that is triggered by strong vibrations.

Repair cracks and existing damage to strengthen structures

Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Cracks in the ceiling or foundation could potentially worsen from an earthquake, and existing structural issues may increase the chance that the structure collapses and causes potential harm. Seek expert advice if there are signs of any structural defects.

Fasten shelving and securely store breakables and landscape products

Inside the front office and in maintenance areas, fasten shelves securely to walls and place large or heavy objects on lower shelves. Also, secure any breakable items in closed locations.  Consider moving pesticides and any flammable products to closed cabinets with latches and to bottom shelves in maintenance areas.

Secure items on walls and breakables that could move around during tremors

Mirrors, picture frames and other hanging items as well as books, framed photos and other items on shelves or walls should be secured with closed hooks, adhesives or earthquake putty. Refrain from hanging heavier objects over common seating areas.

Use nylon straps to hold electronics, computers in place

Electronics such as computers, televisions and other appliances should be secured with nylon straps. Water heaters and gas appliances should be secured by strapping them to the wall studs and bolting them to the floor to prevent movement.

Determine safe areas and hold earthquake drills with staff, residents

Create a communication plan for staff and designate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall. Also, hold earthquake drills with your staff and residents. Reinforce this information by moving to these places during each drill. Remember to drop, cover and hold on.

These tips could help safeguard your community in the event of an earthquake in your area.


Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

author photo two

Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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