If you are one of many students at UC Irvine who has never lived in Southern California before, then perhaps you haven’t yet discovered the power of an earthquake. The chance that the actual shaking will hurt you is minimal with most quakes. The true danger in most of these disasters is when infrastructure is not prepared for the shaking, and dislodges gas or water pipes. Instead of structural collapse, the real danger is often from fire and flooding that can damage your home or the beautiful buildings on campus. One helpful solution to keep Irvine (or any home, school, or business in Southern California) from erupting in a ball of flame due to ruptured natural gas lines is to install an earthquake valve on any natural gas lines you have.
These valves have a very simple philosophy- they shut off your gas lines once a certain level of seismic activity is reached. The lines then remain shut off until a qualified professional comes by to check your pipes. A professional plumber can do the inspection of the safety of the gas lines to ensure that they are intact before re-setting the valve. This means that whether you live on the college campus at UCI, or have a home further away from the university, you know that your building is safe from fire hazard or gas contamination.
You don’t have to be an economics major to know that prevention is much less expensive than paying for the damage that an earthquake can cause. While major disasters are often covered either by FEMA disaster relief or by your earthquake insurance, they’re still very inconvenient to deal with, and can cause a pretty major cramp in your plans to study for finals or pledge your favorite fraternity. Luckily, earthquake valves are simple, quick to install, and require no extra thought once professionally installed. This saves the bulk of your brain power for remembering your chemistry formulas or the overarching themes of the latest great american novel.
So, though UCI is perched near the dastardly San Andreas Fault, their geology department has done a good job in warning them of the frequency and danger of seismic activity. The University is likely safe as they follow the commercial building codes recommended to help protect buildings from the danger of quakes. Therefore, buildings are properly strapped down and reinforced to prevent as much damage and collapse as possible during a quake. However, the danger of fire is often just as likely to spread from buildings in the general area as it is from a building on campus. This means that the grounds and the local neighborhood are still at risk if neighbors who use natural gas aren’t securing their own lines with valves.
If you live in the area, student or not, it only takes a call to a qualified plumber to have earthquake valves installed on your gas pipes. If you live in the Southern California area, it doesn’t take a university degree to see what a smart choice this kind of prevention can be.