Many apartment buildings constructed between 1920 and 1970 had a cut-out garage area or open storefront design and may be classified as soft-story buildings.
Once you have made sure that your building is up to code, there are a few things you can do to further minimize earthquake damage to your body and property. In the event stairwells are blocked or the building is damaged in some way that prevents you from leaving, it is important to have an emergency kit prepared with enough supplies to last you and your family three days. Through literal eons of Earth’s history, earthquakes have heaved the ground, shuddered the trees, and sent fauna scurrying. Major quake-prone cities around the world have begun to take sweeping action to upgrade building codes and bring their huge stocks of older buildings into compliance. In the following videos we see mid-rise to low, 2-story buildings wobbling, responding to higher frequency ground motion. In this long and terrifying video of the Tohoku quake we see plenty of two-story buildings whipping around and losing their window frames, among other non-structural elements. Another clip from Japan shows a base-isolated building sloshing independently from the street around it, buckling the pavement along the joints. Similarly, the Factor Health Sciences building at UCLA has multiple accelerometers on every floor, giving an amazingly precise view of the building’s motion during earthquakes. Data recorded within these well instrumented buildings help scientists and engineers understand the spectrum of motion possible during earthquakes, and calibrate models of structural response, two key ingredients in designing earthquake-safe structures for the seismic safety needs of a towering city.

Geological Survey estimates that there are 500,000 detectable earthquakes in the world each year.
Also referred to as "weak," or "open-front" buildings, these structures often have difficulty maintaining structural integrity in the midst of an earthquake. One doesn’t need to imagine, however, that a little more shaking or a little less structural integrity can tip these buildings over the edge.
He researches the history of earthquakes in the landscape and what we can learn about them from satellites. The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake left 7,700 housing units uninhabitable and 63 people dead due to soft-story collapses. If you can't find a piece of sturdy furniture, crouch in an inside corner of the apartment and use your arms to cover or face and head. Each of these cities was recently dealt a near-miss with a violent earthquake, but that luck won’t last forever. In this blog he highlights developments in earthquake science, notable mitigation efforts around the world, and media that unveil and illuminate the phenomenon of earthquakes.
Even the most minor earthquake can cause damage to a two-story apartment that has not been properly prepared. Make sure every member of your family knows where the safe spots are in your apartment: against an inside wall or under a sturdy table, for example.

It takes great collective investment to tackle the expensive problem of seismic retrofitting, especially when the violent shaking of earthquakes is usually unimaginably remote from anyone’s experience. Starting at 3:19 the camera shows violent shaking and the gradual and tragic destabilization of the neighboring building. Caltech’s Millikan library has accelerometers installed throughout to measure its tweaking and torquing during even tiny seismic events in Pasadena. With a little forethought, though, all of us can live with the knowledge that if an earthquake does hit, we'll be equipped to handle it. Geological Survey has predicted with a 62 percent probability that the San Francisco Bay Area will experience a 6.7 magnitude or greater earthquake in the next few decades, meaning Bay Area residents living in soft-story buildings should make sure that the building has been reinforced to minimize casualties and property damage. Don't be embarrassed to hold earthquake drills so that every family member can get comfortable with the idea of what he'll do in the event one occurs. To help make the hazard of shaking buildings clear, here is a collection of simulations, data animations, and YouTube video footage of buildings responding to strong ground motions. Some of these are jaw-dropping, and ought to give you a little shiver when you consider whether it’s worth risking it in an unfit building.

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