Orange County, like most large metropolitan areas in the nation, operates an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that is the communication and coordination hub for all emergency response situations we may face as a region such as earthquakes and major fires.

Comprised of representatives from public agencies and special districts throughout the county, the EOC team has been holding virtual meetings regularly since mid-March, helping to keep everyone informed and working together since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The idea behind this coordination is that it is more efficient to pool resources, and that communication with other agencies leads to more effective solutions.

These trained experts are the ones who coordinate setting up emergency shelters, supplying food pantries, evacuating threatened neighborhoods and keeping the public informed.

It’s comforting to know that this team and the many organizations it represents rally together to protect the public in times of need.

What role do we play?

Each of us has our own important role to play in becoming more resilient. We all need to do our part to prepare for and even avoid disaster.

People living in or on the edge of wide open spaces like Silverado, Trabuco and Laguna canyons, or the hillsides of Brea and Yorba Linda, have a responsibility to clear brush near their homes, and – if they’re smart – they will take on added precautions to fire-proof their property.

Similarly, property owners along the coast must frequently take added precautions to guard against high tides and erosion.

It makes sense, then, that we should act now to safeguard our buildings by doing seismic retrofitting to reduce the chance of failure in a major earthquake.

After all, people’s lives may depend on it – and so does the income from your rental business, your equity in your property, and the structure itself.

Warning signs of seismic failure

The age of your apartment building is a strong indicator of earthquake vulnerability. The older the building, the weaker the building codes were at that time to protect its structural integrity.

Building type is another important factor of risk analysis, and soft-story structures built before 1978 are particularly at risk.

These wood-framed structures, with open ground floors for parking or storefronts, are extremely vulnerable to collapse in a major earthquake. These buildings lack the ability to withstand lateral forces that push the building from side to side. The swaying can cause the first floor to collapse, and the upper stories to pancake on top of it.

Other vulnerable building types include: non-ductile concrete built before 1978; tilt-up concrete built before 1978; steel moment frame structures constructed prior to the mid-1990s; and unreinforced masonry buildings.

Other factors in determining earthquake risk include proximity to an earthquake fault, and whether your building stands on top of a liquefaction zone.

Much of central Orange County from the 91 freeway south to Irvine is located on a liquefaction zone, where the soil responds to seismic waves much like Jell-O – with a lot of shaking and undulation. This intensifies the stress on a building and frequently leads to increased damage to a structure. A map of local liquefaction zones can be viewed at https://koordinates.com/layer/98182-orange-county-ca-liquefaction-zones/.)

If you think your apartment building may be at risk, contact Optimum Seismic today at 833-978-7664 for a free structural engineering assessment and use that knowledge to protect your building, assets and tenants for years to come.

When we all do our part, it makes our entire region safer and more earthquake resilient. And that’s good for everyone and good for business.