moving from new york to california

Moving From New York to California How to Prepare For Living in An Earthquake Zone

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Moving From New York to California

Securing a long distance moving company from New York to California, exchanging the cooler weather of East Coast for the year round sunshine of West Coast, moving from city life, to beach life of Santa Monica, or bay area can all be very appealing. However, it’s important to acknowledge that making a move from New York to California also means moving long distance to an earthquake zone. There are provisions that can be taken in order to prepare your home and your family should you experience one of California’s famous earthquakes.

California has hundreds of different fault lines running through it, not just the famous San Andreas fault that usually receives the lion’s share of the publicity. In fact, California experiences some form of earthquake or tremor about every three minutes, although the vast majority of these quakes are far too small to be felt, much less registered. The three major fault lines, however, have been strangely quiet for some time, which on the one hand is good. On the other hand, however, their inactivity means that they are continuing to build up subterranean stress, stress that at some point simply has to be released. It becomes not a matter of if it will happen, but when and to what degree, and something to consider before moving to California.

For this reason, before moving from New York City, it becomes imperative to consider the very real threat and increasing likelihood of an earthquake becoming a reality during your time living in California. By taking the appropriate steps now, you may be able to mitigate the threat and see to the safety of your family, pets, and possessions. Make a plan, and with every earthquake or tremor that occurs, reexamine your plan and adjust accordingly your upcoming long distance plan.

How should you prepare your home in an earthquake zone?

The single most dangerous aspect of an earthquake is its simply unpredictability. We just never know when one is going to strike, be it Los Angeles, or San Diego, or to what degree. Obviously, in NYC, this is far less of a concern. They also are not a disaster that you can move away from like a hurricane or a tornado. In reality, the only defense against an earthquake is proper preparation of your home and your property. First and foremost, you should secure earthquake coverage on your insurance policy following a cross country move. Some insurers may provide this service while others may offer it as an added option.

It is vital not to ignore this step as it may be invaluable if extensive repairs or rebuilding is needed. You should also make sure your home has a strong foundation. In order to withstand the strength and power of an earthquake, the foundation must be affixed to the ground as opposed to just being grounded by the weight of the home. Use flexible connectors for your water and gas, as these are much less likely to break under stress. Use shatterproof glass films in your windows, and pay attention to the layout of the furniture within the structure. And have a battery-operated radio (with extra batteries) at your disposal in case the power goes out for an extended period.

Building Structure

California map

If you are planning to move across the country from New York to Los Angeles, or cross country from New York to San Francisco and the bay area (aka, the golden state), knowing what to check when choosing your new home, and how to prepare it can provide peace of mind should an earthquake hit the city and surrounding areas.

Although rare in New York City, earthquakes are not uncommon and have not reached the magnitude of those in California. Therefore, checking the structure of your new home in California following a move from New York is particularly important, especially if you plan to buy. If it requires upgrading, to ensure that it’s strong enough to withhold an earthquake make this a priority and make sure that you or your builders are complying with the current California earthquake building codes set out by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). If you are going to rent an apartment or a house, here are a few questions that you can ask the landlord or real estate agent.

When was the building/house built?

Knowing when the structure was built can provide an indication of how many earthquakes it has survived, if any.

Has the building/house been retrofitted?

If your potential new home has been retrofitted, you can ask to see the documentation to check what it involved. If the structure was built prior to 1994, when the Northridge (California) earthquake struck, and has not been retrofitted, you can request to find out when retrofitting is planned for. Since the Northridge earthquake, building regulations have been far stricter.

Has this building/house been in any previous disasters?

A building in California that was damaged in a previous disaster such as a fire, or an earthquake, will be weaker and the impact far greater should another earthquake strike. Inquire if adequate repairs were performed to the structure after any previous damage.

Interior of home

Safeguarding the interior of your home is also an important part of being prepared for an earthquake. There are many pieces of furniture that could cause damage to the property. This could mean securing bookshelves, making sure large TV’s and speakers are securely attached. If you are good at DIY, secure your home yourself, or hire a professional to ensure the safety of your home. Consider placing any large objects close to the ground. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) have published a poster showing earthquake hazards around the home.

How can I prepare myself for an earthquake?

When you live in NYC, one does not think too much about earthquakes. But when you decide to on a cross country move to California from New York, then being prepared for an earthquake needs to be high on the list of priorities. In addition to ensuring your new home is earthquake safe, it is extremely important that you and any family members know what to do during an earthquake.

In California, especially southern California, there are small quakes happening all the time. However, they are very small and cannot even be felt. If you do experience an earthquake of a significant magnitude, knowing what to do during an earthquake can help you and your family remain calm in what could be an alarming situation. Once the shaking starts, remember: Drop, Cover, and Hold. It is also a good idea to have a survival kit prepared that includes items such as:

• Flashlight & extra batteries
• First-aid kit
• Medication
• Portable radio & extra batteries
• Whistle
• Emergency food and water
• Cash and credit cards
• Multi purpose tool
• Cell phones with chargers
• Copies of personal documents

After the earthquake, what should you do?

You should remain vigilant and calm. Once the earthquake has stopped and the earth settles, there are often a series of aftershocks. There might even be a second earthquake, bigger than the first one; the first one would be a foreshock. So always be prepared! Residents of Los Angeles and San Diego are already familiar with this threat. Check that no one has injuries and if possible, turn off the gas and electric. If you are in a building that has been severely damaged, it is important to try and get out.

In the immediate aftermath of an earthquake, check yourself and your family members for any injuries and render first aid as needed. If phone lines and cell towers are still operable, contact 911 for more seriously injured. Check water and gas lines for damage, and if you smell gas, open all windows and doors to help disperse the fumes and reduce the fire threat. Look for cracks and other damage to the foundation, walls, and roof of the home.

If the building is damaged, then evacuate and do not re enter the premises under any condition until approved to do so by the proper authorities. Be aware that items in closets, cupboards, and pantries may have shifted during the quake and could fall out when they are opened. Have your phone on and the volume up during this time as any emergency messages will be transmitted through this medium. Try to keep calls to a minimum as cell service will likely be overloaded in the aftermath.

Scientists estimate that California will experience a major earthquake, on the order of 6.5 on the Richter scale or greater, within just the next few years. When moving from New York City to California proper preparation now will prove invaluable later on.

Recommended reading
After Your Move - Settling In
Moving Long Distance to Los Angeles
Moving Long Distance to San Francisco

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Shannon L.
Shannon L.
Jan 5, 2024

Movers who packed my things up in NY were great. I was also very impressed with how clear everything was, how fast the move coordinator Eric was with getting back to me. Read more testimonials

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Feb 11, 2024

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Ria B.
Jan 10, 2024

Everything went smoothly with CA-NY Express Movers. They packed up my apt in NYC in no time, put it into storage for me while we found our new house. Read more testimonials

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