It is important for commercial property owners to seismically retrofit their buildings and take additional steps to protect the health and safety of their tenants and residents.

Owners and managers of commercial properties often only become aware of their responsibility to ensure that their buildings can withstand an earthquake and comply with city buildings codes when they receive an order from the city to begin the process of seismically reinforcing their properties. Equally important when the health and safety of tenants and residents is at stake, are the following, additional earthquake preparedness steps.

During an earthquake, tenants and residents are at risk from both being struck by debris from a collapsing building or overtaken by fires resulting from gas leaks or electrical shorts. As such, it is important for commercial property owners to help prepare for an earthquake before it strikes. Property owners should, among others, urge and help tenants and residents take the following steps:

  • Pick “safe spaces” such as a sturdy table, or an area against an interior wall and away from windows or furniture that can fall down. Tenants must know where their “safe space” is, and get there as soon as possible.
  • Practice “drop, cover, and hold-on” in their chosen safe space. Drop under a desk, hold on to the desk, protect eyes and keep heads down.
  • Follow the building’s evacuation plan to exist the property after the shaking stops, remaining on the lookout for fires, taking the stairs down (not the elevators!), and moving away from the building once getting outside. Once outside, everyone must watch out for falling bricks, roofing, streetlights, and overhead power lines.

It is important for owners of “Soft Story” buildings to seismically retrofit these properties. “Soft Story” buildings are those that consist of two or more stories and a wood frame construction, contain ground floor parking, or were built under buildings codes enacted prior to 1978.

Beginning in May 2016, owners of such buildings in Los Angeles have been receiving notices and orders from the City’s Building and Safety Department, detailing owners’ responsibility to prepare financially and hire local contractors to undertake earthquake retrofitting on these properties. Without a high-quality seismic retrofit, such vulnerable buildings may experience catastrophic structural failures that will threaten the health and safety of those working or living within.

Weinstein Construction Corporation is a proud supporter of owners of Soft Story structures! Since 1977, our family-owned business has been the leading earthquake retrofitting company in the greater Los Angeles basin area. Since the devastating 1994 Northridge earthquake, we have successfully retrofitted over 7,000 buildings and helped countless property owners with their quake proofing needs. Call us today to have one of our representatives visit you to discuss your needs and provide you with a free, no-obligation evaluation and cost estimate. Our aim is for you to be prepared and have peace of mind when the next “Big One” hits!

By Mr. Itzcik Weinstein, President of Weinstein Construction Company