For general information about a variety of earthquake safety issues for homeowners, refer to the California State Seismic Safety Commission’s Homeowner’s Guide to Earthquake Safety.
Liquefaction can cause severe damage to foundations, causing a home to tip, sink, or slide. If your home is located in an area that may be susceptible to liquefaction visit ABAG's earthquake webpage and scroll to the liquefaction section for more information.
Earthquakes can trigger landslides on hillsides that can result in significant property damage, injury, and loss of life. If your home is located in an area that may be susceptible to earthquake-induced landslides visit ABAG's landslide webpage.
Surface Fault Rupture
Buildings that span a surface fault are likely to suffer great damage if an earthquake causes fault rupture. If your home is located in a potential fault rupture zone visit ABAG's earthquake webpage and scroll to the Fault Rupture section.
Without a proper support system, your home could fall off its supports in an earthquake. Many foundation systems previously advertised as safe, such as tie-down systems or Earthquake-Resistant Bracing Systems, have been found to be less effective against collapse than previously thought.
Home with a Crawl Space
If the crawl space framing is not bolted to the foundation, the home can slide off the foundation. If the crawl space is not properly braced with plywood, all or a portion of the crawl space can experience significant lean or collapse.
For more information on strengthening crawl space walls under 7 feet, refer to FEMA’s standard plan set for retrofit.
To see if you are eligible for a grant for cripple wall strengthening, visit the California Earthquake Authority Earthquake Brace and Bolt webpage.
Soft, Weak or Open Front Buildings
In an earthquake, the open first floor is not strong enough to support the floors above it, leading to first floor collapse. If these spaces are occupied, this can lead to injury or death to occupants.
For more information on soft story buildings visit the soft story section on ABAG's Resilient Housing Policy webpage.
Masonry or Stone Chimneys
The mortar on chimneys is usually not adequate to prevent the bricks or stones from coming loose in an earthquake. The chimney can break and partially or fully collapse, either inside or outside the house, potentially leading to property damage, injury, or even death. However, the safety hazard is localized to the living areas near the chimney (interior and exterior).
For more information on chimneys open FEMA's chimney retrofit guidance described in Section 7 of their 2019 report.
Natural Gas Risks
A rigid gas line attached to an appliance can break if the appliance tips over in an earthquake, leading to fires. Fire following earthquake is a serious problem and can result in more property destruction than the earthquake itself.
For more information on securing your water heater visit the California Division of the State Architect for their Guidelines for Bracing Residential Water Heaters.
For more information on improving natural gas safety in earthquakes, refer to California Seismic Safety Commission’s Improving Natural Gas Safety in Earthquakes report or refer to SoCal Gas’s Natural Gas Safety at Home
Heavy furniture that tips over in an earthquake can cause injury or death, or trap you in your home. For more information, visit the Earthquake Country Alliance resources on how to secure furniture.
Print Version of Field Guide
The Housing Types portion of the website can be downloaded in a print friendly format here.