Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Learning from Disasters - 2014 South Napa Earthquake

A great way to build disaster resilience is to analyze actual disasters that have occurred recently in communities that are similar to ours and to apply the lessons learned. The magnitude-6.0 South Napa Earthquake which occurred on August 24, 2014 provides an excellent opportunity for this.  In February, FEMA published an excellent analysis of this event and its impact on buildings. Though it's very detailed and technical there are a number of helpful insights that a anyone can take from it.  Here are a few highlights:

1. Most residential buildings withstood the earthquake well.    However, two structural components were vulnerable: cripple walls and masonry chimneys.  And though it wasn't an issue in this moderate earthquake, don't forget that it's also essential that your house is secured to its foundation.

Collapsed chimney - 2014 South Napa Earthquake
2. Damage to fire sprinkler systems was common and there were situations where substantial water damage resulted.  In your workplace, make sure that enough people know when and how to safely shut off the fire sprinkler system.

3. Sadly, in this moderate earthquake there was one death.  The victim was struck in the head by a TV.  This confirms what we observe in most earthquakes in the U.S.  Injuries and fatalities will occur not from building collapse but from non-structural items and contents such as furniture, appliances, and similar things falling on people.

Overturned unanchored bookshelf - 2014 South Napa Earthquake

The report has many other interesting observations and recommendations.  Here's the link to the full report:

1 comment:

LivelyClamor said...

Would you happen to know when the building code in this county/state began to require that houses be bolted to their foundations? (I live in a one story ranch house with attached garage that was built in 1973. It has a crawl space.)