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Tipping Point: Is your home ready for an earthquake?

Cascadia Subduction Zone

EUGENE, Ore. - When a massive Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake rocks the Pacific Northwest, where will you be?

Erica Fischer says it’s likely the Cascadia earthquake could happen while you are at home.

Or even in bed.

"We think about how much time we spend in our bedrooms, right?” said Fischer, Assistant Professor of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University. “It's almost eight hours a night, you know? So, it's a significant amount of time.”

The big concern for homeowners in this scenario: does you refuge become a trap?

“If things started moving in here, if the ground started moving, what would fall over?” asked Fischer.

Would things fall in hallways or in front of exits?

“If you guys were back in the rooms, or if your animals are traipsing back-and-forth,” said Fischer, “you want to make sure you're not trapped."

What is the Cascadia Subduction Zone?

By now, you've probably heard a lot about the Cascadia Subduction Zone: a 700 mile long fault line that stretches from British Columbia south to Northern California.

The last time a 9.0 earthquake struck along the fault was the year 1700.


Scientists say the fault is due - if not overdue - for another massive quake.

FEMA states this fault line has the potential to produce a monster of an earthquake at a magnitude 9.0 - followed by a tsunami in coastal communities.

RELATED | 'Thousands will be killed or injured and Oregon will suffer $32 billion in damage'

It’s what many refer to as “The Big One," the subject of training exercises like the Great Oregon ShakeOut and the Cascadia Rising doomsday drill.

How to improve the safety of your home

“If things started moving in here, if the ground started moving, what would fall over?” asked Fischer.

Would things fall in hallways or in front of exits?

“If you guys were back in the rooms, or if your animals are traipsing back-and-forth,” said Fischer, “you want to make sure you're not trapped."

Or worse, your furniture could fall and land on you, your children, or your pets.

“It really hit me when I thought about it,” said Creswell homeowner Clark Kent, “that it could really fall and could be devastating to any creature, human or otherwise that could be underneath it.”

Clark and his wife Joanie Kent recently moved to Creswell.

They invited Fischer into their home to evaluate potential hazards during an earthquake.

“This television is not secured down, it's pretty heavy, and it could fall over,” said Fischer. “These are great examples of bookcases that could fall over, or things off the bookcase that could fall off."

The solution?

"Brackets that you can buy, that you can screw to the bookcase itself and then screw into a stud on the wall,” said Fischer, “and then you could put wire across here because you don't want the contents to fall out."

Fischer said to check anything in your home with the potential to fall.

If it can cause harm or hinder you and your family’s survival, find a way to secure it.

“I think a lot of what we're saying, it could seem overwhelming,” said Fischer. “’Oh, there's so much to do, there's so much to anchor, there's so much to think about.' But you know, it can be done in small increments and it doesn't take a lot of time to do."

Fischer said the risk is there, and it’s best to be prepared now for a natural disaster to make the recovery easier both financially and emotionally.

“There's no prior warning and the earthquake happens,” said Joanie, “and we come home and the house is devastated and we've got furniture that's fallen on our animals; it'd just be really heartbreaking."

"I don't think it's about doom and gloom,” said Clark. “I think it's a type of situational awareness; kind of being ready for anything that will happen."

Not being scared, but being prepared. So, when an earthquake hits, your heavy furniture will not reach it’s tipping point.

Furniture is now often sold with the anchors included, but you can buy them at most department stores as well.

Just be sure to screw it in to a stud in the wall so it won't rip out when your furniture starts to tip.



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