Is your home prepared for an earthquake?

Steve Gemmell, who runs Earthquake Tech, explains how to prepare a house's foundation for an earthquake. KATU photo

Two major earthquakes hit in Indoneisa and Austraila this weekend, and another occurred in Seattle two days ago.

The recent tremors have homeowners worried about protecting their homes from earthquakes.

Like many Portlanders, Steve Gemmell lives in a house built in the early 1900s, but his North Portland home is locked down by bolts about five inches long.

They're keeping the wooden frame of the house attached to the concrete foundation.

This technique keeps homes from shifting during an earthquake, making it, theoretically, less prone to structural damage.

"If the piece of wood isn't attach to the foundation, it can move back and forth and even go up. There's some uplift to an earthquake as well," said Gemmell.

He runs a local business, Earthquake Tech, that bolts down homes to the foundation.

"We don't have earthquakes here. People don't understand what could happen," said Gemmell.

One important aspect is the gas that runs through homes. Gemmell says attaching an automatic shutoff valve can prevent your home form going up in flames.

"When the house moves, it shakes the gas line and triggers this valve to shut," he said.

He says a basic retrofit on a home would run customers about $5,000, which would outweigh potential costs if an earthquake does hit.

"I don't want to take the chances, building a new home would take a lot of money," said Gemmell. "I think spending $5,000-6,000 is worth covering your asset and limiting your liability of having to rebuild your house. Definitely worth it."

Gemmell says he gets earthquake insurance, just in case.

In some cases in Oregon, homeowners will have to prove their home is retroftted to get earthquake insurance.

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