No matter where you live, there's a chance that an earthquake will strike. You can't prevent an earthquake, but you can be prepared.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the most common causes of damage and injury during earthquakes in the United States are falling objects. To protect your home and family:
- Brace water heaters (this can cost as little as $25 for hardware), and make sure all gas lines are secured and have emergency shut-off valves. (You will need a licensed contractor to perform any work on gas lines.) A secure water heater can prevent fires and water damage, as well as provide a source of water during an emergency.
- Make sure you know how to shut off the electricity, gas and water in case of damage.
- Secure large furniture, bookcases, cabinets and televisions — ideally, by strapping them to wall studs — to lessen the risk they will break or cause injuries. You should be able to do this for less than $15 per item, the cost of the materials.
- Plan what you and your family will do during an earthquake. If you are indoors, head to an interior room if possible. Drop to the floor and take cover to protect yourself from debris. If outdoors, look for an area clear of trees, buildings and utility wires. Designate a safe location where family members can meet if separated.
Reducing Earthquake Risks (Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety)
Video: Protecting Your Home from an Earthquake (Insurance Information Institute)
Prevent Mold Damage
Mold can damage your property and put your and your family's health at risk. Humidity, water damage, flooding, storms and plumbing leaks are all potential causes of mold. To protect your home from mold:
- Conduct regular plumbing inspections and make repairs right away.
- Check floors and walls for water damage, which may indicate hidden mold.
- Clean spills and dry damp areas quickly, as this usually will prevent mold from forming.
- Keep the humidity inside your home low. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends keeping indoor humidity below 60%. You can monitor humidity levels with an inexpensive humidity meter, available at most home improvement or hardware stores.
Mold Prevention and Control (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
Protecting Your House from Mold (Insurance Information Institute)
Be Vigilant About Wildfires
With many areas of the country suffering drought conditions, wildfires continue to be a threat. Create a safe zone of at least 30 feet around your residence by clearing debris from the roof and gutters, removing dead plants and branches from your yard, and storing firewood a safe distance from your home. For more tips on wildfire protection, see July Home Maintenance Tips.
To save energy and improve efficiency, replace the air filters in your air-conditioning and heating system regularly. Since winter months are approaching, have your heating equipment checked and chimney inspected and cleaned to remove buildup that can cause fires.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control, Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Institute for Business & Home Safety, Insurance Information Institute