It may have escaped your notice during this week's Great Utah ShakeOut earthquake drill that you live in a house made of unreinforced brick. There are many such homes along the Wasatch Front, more than 30,000 of them in Salt Lake City alone. That simple fact could place your life at risk during a major earth tremor as your home collapses around you. Fortunately, there are things you can do to shore up your home.
The Utah Seismic Safety Commission has assembled an information kit online at ussc.utah.gov/publications.html. It's titled, appropriately enough, "The Utah guide for the seismic improvement of unreinforced masonry dwellings." It includes a primer on the hows and whys of risk posed by these buildings during quakes, and what can be done to improve their safety. Most interesting is a series of six model houses in styles that you will readily recognize from the Salt Lake City area. If you live in a brick house, it probably will resemble one of these examples.
The guide is full of drawings, diagrams and photographs. The information explains the weaknesses typical of each style of home and the retrofitting building techniques that can improve their safety.