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Earthquake Preparedness Knowledge

Preparing for an earthquake is vital for regions that have a history of seismic activity. A seismic retrofit can ensure the safest environment possible, especially for buildings that were built prior to 1998. Here are important points to raise your awareness on earthquake preparedness.

Why Seismic Retrofitting Matters

The main purpose of seismic retrofitting is to strengthen an existing structure by adding support. With building codes getting stricter, it’s important to have an old building inspected to make sure it’s up to code. Seismic retrofits may also involve structures beyond buildings, such as bridges.

Different Types of Seismic Retrofit Projects

  • Concrete Tilt-Up & Reinforced Masonry (CMU)
  • Un-reinforced Masonry (URM)
  • Concrete Buildings 2 or More Stories
  • Soft Stories or Tuck Under Apartments

Reasons for Retrofit

A top reason for a commercial building to undergo a seismic retrofit is to increase its marketability by offering a safer environment. The retrofit will lower the building’s Probable Maximum Loss (PML) in an earthquake, which can be attractive to lenders. Retrofitting further reduces the risks of injuries, which limits liabilities.

It’s unclear how insurance companies will structure earthquake damage policies in the future after dealing with severe losses in the past. It is clear, however, that tenants feel safer and are likely to stay longer in places that have undergone a seismic retrofit. So another major reason to have earthquake preparedness work done is to create an atmosphere of confidence and peace of mind.

Techniques for Reducing Earthquake Damage

Strengthening the roof is a key part of a seismic retrofit job. The types of support added include exterior steel, brace frames, shear walls and equipment anchoring. One of the ways to prevent short-term condensation, which can damage a roof, is to vent the roofing system foil.

Preventing Roof Damage

The building owner should take a proactive approach to protecting the roof as much as possible by scheduling regular inspections. An experienced roofer can conduct a thorough inspection that uncovers hidden leaks. Any type of leak must be repaired as soon as possible to prevent water from entering the building. If leaks are neglected, they can create bigger problems and weaken the roof.

An inspector can also identify if the roof’s nails need replacing, such as rusted or deteriorating nails. Part of seismic strengthening calls for upgrading the nailing pattern. Replacing missing shingles or tiles is also necessary.

One of the most important measures a company can take to ensure earthquake preparedness and a strong roof is to routinely check the roof, attic, ceilings and walls for moisture and condensation. Keeping the walls free of moisture and condensation will help make them last longer and reduce maintenance bills.


Staying ahead of the curve when it comes to earthquake safety helps improve a company’s image. Demonstrating earthquake preparedness by undergoing a seismic retrofit and getting periodic roof inspections will help ensure a safe environment. Contact Saunders at our Washington, Oregon and California locations to learn more about earthquake preparedness and seismic retrofitting.

Posted Under: earthquake preparedness