Sunday, September 23

Earthquake!

Found on Google
Wandering around my house I'm been noticing some cosmetic cracks that I don't remember being there when I bought the house three years ago. Since my house is old enough that settling isn't likely I'm attributing these cracks to the rash of earthquakes we've had over the past several months. 

While the earthquakes weren't strong enough to cause significant damage to the Tulsa area, it did make me wonder if my home was built to stand up to an earthquake. And whether my insurance through State Farm covers damage caused by earthquakes. According to their website, basic home insurance covers theft, fire and hail, but is not limited to these. I probably have paperwork detailing what is and isn't covered, its simply a matter of finding it.

I find it ironic though that the natural disasters most often associated with Oklahoma are tornadoes. I have now experienced three earthquakes, but have never seen a tornado--hopefully I never will. 

Since earthquakes are not particularly common in Oklahoma (or didn't seem to be until recently) I've started doing some research on what to do in case of a particularly bad quake.

I'm pretty sure the only thing mentioned about earthquakes during disaster preparedness drills in school is to hide under our desks or to stand in a doorway. (Looking back I'm not quite sure how much help our flimsy desks would have been if half the building starting caving in on our classroom.)  One website I found said that most doorways are not built sturdily enough to offer protection during a severe earthquake. But I apparently did the right thing when one of our earthquakes woke me up in the middle of the night--I rolled over and went back to sleep! The website said to stay in bed covering your head with a pillow...

Obviously most of the sites I found were offering procedures for very severe quakes. So far the strongest ones we've had in Tulsa haven't been much more severe than what you feel when the thunder/lightning get going during one of our storms. The video below is a quick view of one of our less impressive storms--during a truly impressive thunderstorm my TV would be out.

video

I think the advice I found the most helpful was suggestions of preventative measures you can take to make earthquakes (or other disasters) less dangerous. Apparently fires and leaking gas/sewage lines are common following an earthquake. Storing flammable substances in secure cabinets on a low shelf and using flexible piping for utility lines help minimize these risks. It's also important to avoid hanging mirrors or heavy objects above beds or seating areas, put heavy items close to the ground and bracing top heavy objects to avoid possible injuries.

Most of the cracks I've noticed around my house are small and in places like the wall above doorways. The only crack that truly concerns me is one I found in the brick exterior on the side of my house (shown on the left). Instead of following the edges of the brick like cosmetic cracks usually do it cuts through some of the bricks. So far I've just been keeping an eye on it, I don't believe I need to worry at this point. However, the question that arises is, at what point should small issues like the cracks around my house worry me?

Has anyone else noticed house damage caused by an earthquake or other natural disaster? At what point did you feel the need to do repairs?

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