Earthquakes Pose Increasing Risk to Buildings, Occupants

April 23, 2015

Seismic activity shown to affect nearly half of Americans.

Earthquakes continue to be a threat to economic productivity and overall safety, according to new research that shows that over 143 million Americans (or almost half of the population) will experience potentially dangerous seismic activity during their lifetimes. The number is a dramatic increase from 1994, when FEMA estimated that only around 75 million Americans were at risk from seismic activity. The Seismological Society of America report also shows that around 28 million people will experience shaking strong enough to cause significant damage to critical infrastructure such as hospitals and schools.  

The study also used census data and replacement cost values for buildings to estimate the average value of losses caused by earthquakes, finding the long-term average property loss in the contiguous U.S. to be around $4.5 billion per year. The study’s authors note that both the number of people exposed to seismic activity and estimated financial losses from earthquake-damaged facilities are rising due to changes made to the hazard assessment process and large movements of the population toward the west coast of California, Oregon, and Washington, which account for around 80% of total losses.

Looking to protect your facility from earthquakes? Take a look at this guide to Reduce the Risk of Nonstructural Damage.

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