How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster

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In recent weeks, extreme weather conditions have brought about destruction and tragedy throughout several regions of the United States: Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and La Tuna Fire, to name a few. And last week’s 8.1 earthquake off Mexico’s Pacific Coast was the largest of its kind in nearly a century.

With the risk of natural disaster fresh on everyone’s minds, the question arises: how can those in LA protect themselves? Here’s how you can prepare yourself for a natural disaster.

Prepare Your Existing Structures

New structures are required to meet minimum safety standards, which include earthquake-proof structuring; however, many old buildings and homes built prior to 1978 still aren’t equipped to withstand an earthquake.

In 2014, LA City Council ordered inspectors to develop a list of earthquake-vulnerable, “soft-story” residential buildings – structured with wood and/or concrete alone – and found roughly 13,500 buildings that fit the description. An article from Curbed LA released just over a year ago reveals that more than half of Los Angeles’ soft-story buildings are located in the San Fernando Valley and Westside regions. In 2015, mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council passed city ordinance 183893 that will give soft-story residential building owners 10 years to either retrofit or demolish and rebuilt to comply with minimum earthquake-proof standards. To check if a residential building meets these standards, take a look at this interactive map produced by the LA Times.

If you live in a single-family home that isn’t earthquake proof, the good news is that retrofitting can be contracted for only a few thousand dollars. If you prefer to do the installation yourself, check out this article.

Complete The Preparedness Checklists

The American Red Cross recommends being prepared with emergency supplies to last three days for evacuation and at least two weeks for shelter in place. For a detailed list of what to include in your emergency kits, click here. Earthquake survival kits are available at the BHGLAAR Store.

Make A Plan to Meet Up with Your Loved One

If remote communication isn’t possible, you will need to meet your loved ones at a mutual, pre-planned location once it is safe to do so. When choosing your meeting location, consider not only how safe the location is, but how safe it is to travel there from afar. Open, flat areas that are far from big structures are preferable, such as parks and fields.

Prepare Yourself, Your Family and Your Coworkers

You may be surprised to learn that a doorway is not the safest place to be during an earthquake. It’s important to have a sensible, immediate plan of action at the moment that the disaster occurs — and to make sure your family members and coworkers are equally informed. For detailed checklists on what to do before, during, and after a an earthquake, click here. Learn more about office safety procedures here.

Consider Earthquake Insurance

You’ll see varied levels of coverage for fire and flood damage on homeowner’s insurance policies, but none of them cover earthquake damage. Thus, you should strongly consider purchasing an earthquake insurance policy. For more information on earthquake insurance, head over to the California Department of Insurance website.

One Final Note. . .

Victims of natural disaster simply cannot recover without the help of volunteers and donations (whether monetary or otherwise). There are countless organizations making an effort to aid those in need, and it’s important to exercise due diligence prior to investing your time and resources to such organizations. As a starting point, consider supporting NAR’s REALTORS® Relief Foundation or the American Red Cross.

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