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Earthquakes typically occur without warning, so there’s no time like the present to help make sure your home is safe. Consider these precautions to help protect yourself and your belongings before an earthquake happens.
Scan Your Home for Potential Hazards
Household items can be shaken loose or fall during an earthquake. Make sure heavy items like mirrors or wall art are not hung directly above a bed or couch. With that in mind, go room by room and take stock of any objects that might fall if they are jostled by an earthquake. Consider moving these pieces away from where someone could be sleeping or sitting.
Store Items Safely
Consider moving heavy, fragile items such as china and glassware to lower shelves or cabinets closer to the floor. You may also want to use bolts or latches on drawers and cabinets to help keep them closed.
Keep Furniture and Appliances Secure
Some top-heavy furniture like a bookcase or even a TV stand should be anchored to wall studs. If you’re not comfortable bolting the furniture yourself, consider bringing in a professional.
Stock an Emergency Kit
Before an earthquake occurs, consider building an emergency kit for you and your family. This kit should include at least three days’ worth of food and water, a whistle, a flashlight and a fire extinguisher. Remember, you want to customize your kit to your family’s specific needs. If you have a pet, make sure to also include items for your furry friend like their food, water, carrier and leash.
Know How to Shut Off Utilities
It’s important to know how to shut off the utilities to your home in case of an emergency. It’s worth having a wrench handy in order to turn off the utilities after an earthquake occurs to help prevent gas leaks or electrical sparks from igniting items in your home. If you’re not sure how or where to shut off your utilities, contact your utility company or speak to a professional.

Your home is protected by dwelling coverage (also called “Coverage A”). The amount of dwelling coverage is usually based on the cost to rebuild your home. Most standard policies cover your home at Replacement Cost Value (RCV). That means if your home is insured up to $250,000, then you may get up to that amount to rebuild if your home is destroyed. Just make sure your dwelling coverage amount is enough to cover you in case a complete rebuild is necessary.
Your belongings
Your belongings are covered by “personal property” coverage on your policy. When insuring your belongings (meaning everything you own inside of your home and in storage), you can choose between Actual Cash Value (ACV) and Replacement Cost Value (RCV). Most insurance policies default as ACV, but you can usually switch to RCV for an increased price. For example, if you paid $5,000 for a new couch 10 years ago, and it was destroyed in a fire, the ACV options would typically pay the current value of the couch (cost less depreciation) whereas the RCV option would typically pay what it costs to replace your couch, which could be more or less than $5,000, minus your deductible.
Which option is best?
Like most insurance questions, it depends on your situation. Actual cash value insurance is usually the more affordable option. But, ACV may not offer enough coverage if something is damaged. The payout amount you’ll get from your insurer will likely be higher with replacement cost insurance. So, it’s a trade-off.

If the smoke alarm goes off in your home, do you and your family have a fire escape plan?
Fire departments respond to approximately 370,000 home fires every year. And, while not all home fires are preventable, creating a fire-prevention plan can reduce the risk of fire in your home.
Check out the home fire prevention tips below to keep your home and family safe.
1. Sweep the chimney
Do this yearly to prevent the buildup of flammable creosote.
2. Install Smoke detectors
Place a smoke detector on every floor, and in or near every bedroom. Make sure to test the batteries regularly and change every six months.
3. Plan Fire escapes
Keep roll-out ladders near each window above the first floor for a safe escape in case of fire.
4. Be careful with space heaters
Place space heaters at least 3 feet away from other objects.
5. Use a Safe
Protect irreplaceable items and important documents in a safe that has an Underwriters Laboratory Rating of 125 or above.
6. Use a surge protector on electrical outlets
Use one surge protector per wall outlet to protect your electrical system and electronics.
7. Consider battery-operated candles
Rather than burning real candles, try battery-operated ones instead. If you do burn real candles, never leave them unattended.
8. Keep an eye on the stove
Don’t leave a hot stove while cooking. Stay in the kitchen, and avoid trying to multitask while cooking a meal.
9. Maintain your Fire extinguisher
Keep a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen, and replace it as often as the manufacturer recommends.
10. Practice Fire Drills
Run practice fire drills with your family to ensure that everyone knows which exits to use in case of an emergency.