PROTECTING YOUR HOME FROM EARTHQUAKES
PROTECTING YOUR HOME'S CONTENTS
Now we're down to the easiest measures you can take to protect your home's contents. Most of the ideas cost under $20 and require only a few minutes to complete. These home security tips and earthquake preparedness retrofits reviewed over the past three issues may save you BIG $$ in the future. Spring and Fall are a great time for home projects, so let's get busy!
LARGE APPLIANCES AND FURNITURE
Large Velcro security strapping with Fastex buckles. The security strap is bolted to a wall stud behind the refrigerator. You will need a stud finder, pencil, drill and adjustable wrench for this project.
Flexible nylon straps are strong, versatile and easy to install. At one end, peel and press to the item to be secured. Screw the other end into the wall stud through the grommet hole. Straps are non-damaging to wood, hide from view and come in five colors. These straps can also be used on file cabinets, large copy machines, bookcases, armoires, hutches, antique cabinets, grandfather clocks, entertainment centers, fish tanks, washers and dryers. There are a variety of manufacturers and straps run anywhere from US11 - $25 depending of the size.
- These fasteners may not be quite as esthetically pleasing, but they do the job and are less expensive than color-coordinated straps. They can be found in most local hardware stores and should only cost a couple of dollars. Like all fastening devices, make sure the portion that goes into the wall is secured into a stud.
You can anchor large pieces of furniture in several ways. The figure shows how to anchor a bookcase to a wall, but the same methods can be used for other pieces of furniture. As shown in the figure, a bookcase can be anchored with metal "L" brackets and screws along its top or sides (either inside or outside). "L" brackets can be installed upside down so they're hidden from view. Another option is to put screws through the back of the bookcase and into the wall studs.
Keep these points in mind when you anchor large pieces of furniture:
- Make sure all anchoring screws penetrate into the studs behind the object to be secured. Screws embedded in drywall or plaster only will pull out. Regardless of the anchoring method you use, the screws should be long enough to extend at least 2 inches into the wall and studs.
To prevent the contents of your bookcases from falling out, install a thin metal or plastic rod, a wood dowel, or even an elastic band across the front of each shelf.
Before anchoring a bookcase with screws through its back, make sure the back is sturdy enough and that it is securely attached to the sides, top, and bottom. Some bookcases have backs made of very thin materials held in place with only small screws or staples that can easily pull out. Those bookcases should be anchored with brackets.
If you have two or more bookcases or file cabinets that sit next to each other, consider connecting them to one another as well as to the wall. They will be even more stable.
COMPUTERS, VCRs and OTHER ELECTRONICS
Tremors caused by even minor earthquakes can easily move personal computer systems, stereo systems, television sets, and other small appliances that typically sit on desks, tables, and countertops. If they fall, they can be damaged beyond repair.
As shown in these graphics, you can protect desktop computers and other small appliances by restraining them in a variety of ways. Some methods, such as using Velcro-type material require no tools. Others, which include using chain, cables, or elastic cord ("bungee" cords for example), will usually require simple hand tools.
Keep these points in mind when you restrain desktop computers and appliances: Make sure that the desk or table the appliance sits on is not so light that it can be easily over-turned. If it is, and you can't move the appliance to another location, consider anchoring the desk or table to the floor or wall.
You can anchor the ends of chains, cables, or elastic cords to either the wall or the surface of the desk, table, or counter using eye-hooks, rings, screws and washers, or other types of mounts. If you want to use a wall-anchored chain, cable, or cord, attach it to a closed eye-hook screwed into the wall or to a wall mount (such as a ring or plate) attached with screws. Make sure the eye-hook or screws are long enough to penetrate not just the wall but the studs behind it as well.
© Text and Graphics, 2001 Stan and Holly Deyo, except where otherwise credited