Earthquakes cannot be prevented but sound design and construction based on research and compliance with building code requirements can reduce their effects. Worldwide, it is estimated that several million earthquakes occur each year, but most are too small to be felt. They can occur anywhere; however, the likelihood of earthquakes strong enough to threaten buildings is especially high in certain geographic areas.
In North America, where wood-frame construction is common, loss of life due to earthquakes has been relatively low compared to other regions of the world. The relative good performance of wood buildings is often attributed to the following characteristics: