For owners of older houses and buildings that are on the Pacific Coast, an important consideration they must take into account is the need for seismic refitting. This method of refitting older buildings to make them safer from earthquakes is an important part of being a responsible citizen. Not only is it the owner’s duty, but there can also be financial penalties for building owners who do not comply.

When an earthquake occurs, the shaking ground moves buildings in a side-to side manner that causes them to shake and shimmy. When this occurs, the most vulnerable parts of the house are the cripple walls. The cripple walls are the walls found along the perimeter of the home. These are the walls that are under the most stress when an earthquake happens, and it is these walls that will first collapse from the stress of a seismic tremor.

Therefore, the first step in seismic refitting is…

1. Secure the cripple walls

The cripple walls are braced with plywood that will give them added strength to resist the violent movement they experience during an earthquake.

2. Bolt the cripple walls to the foundation

Once the cripple walls are reinforced, they will not be easy to break. However, now the house itself will be in danger of sliding off the foundation during an earthquake. In order to prevent this, the next step in seismic refitting is to bolt that cripple walls to the foundation. When this is done, the home will stay securely attached to the foundation during the violent side-to-side movement of the earth’s surface that occurs during earthquakes and their aftershocks.

3. Bolt the floors to the cripple walls

The next important step in the seismic refitting process is to bolt the floors of the house to the cripple walls. If this is not accomplished, then the other procedures will mean little. The house will simply shake back and forth until it tips over due to the outstanding force involved. Nailing the floor to the cripple walls will prevent this.

The floor will be attached to the sturdy cripple walls, which are in turn attached to the even sturdier foundation. These structures reinforce each other so that the building is now a secure structure that will be able to withstand the force of all but the most violent temblors.

Prepare your staff

If you own an office building, seismic retrofitting is only part of earthquake preparedness. Be sure that have an emergency plan in place, and ensure that all of your employees are adequately prepared to reach safely in the event of an earthquake.

Also, whether you’re protecting an office or your home, be sure to secure anything that could cause injury or death if it were to fall or move. This may include attaching large pieces of furniture to the wall, and ensuring that everything at risk is properly braced or secured.

Protect your building
The key to making your home or business safe from the ravage of earthquakes is in following these three steps to seismically refit them, and taking all the necessary precautions. These methods have been proven to strengthen even the oldest home, bringing them up to code. Doing this will not only keep your buildings safe, but it will provide your family with a secure structure that they can weather the violent motion of an earthquake in. This is a great feeling of peace of  mind when you have a safe zone like this.

If you fail to take these steps, you may be liable for financial penalties depending upon your jurisdiction. You also could face a lawsuit if anyone was hurt in your home during an earthquake. Do the right thing. Get a seismic refitting done on your old building today.

Jason Kane firmly believes that workplace safety should always be the number one priority in any workplace. He is a blogger for Federal Steel Supply, Inc.

Note: This is not a DIY project, but one for professionals, who have the training to undertake such an important task.  These workers should be equipped with hardhats, gloves, safety glasses, and other personal protective equipment.  pb