Earthquake Preparations Room by Room

One of the most frequent causes of injury during an earthquake is from stuff falling on the victim. It might be a picture, a television or the whole house. Preparation requires a careful look at every room in your home.

Kitchen: In Northridge, our refrigerator rolled out to the middle of the room and two cabinets came open. The leaves of the table also separated, allowing stuff that was on it to fall off.

That’s not all that could have happened here. One of the fatalities was from a flying microwave making contact with his head. Cabinets, appliances, stuff on surfaces and gas leaks are all possible dangers in your kitchen. Cabinet latches could help with that part of the problem, but you will probably have to ask the manufacturers the best way to secure appliances. If you can, put the heavier items on your surfaces into a cabinet so they don’t become missiles.

Den: Our den has wall to wall, ceiling to floor book cases. Fortunately, the shelves are very wide and the books are fairly well packed in. Only a few came out on the floor. In fact, it was one of the best rooms in the house, when it came to cleaning up.

If your den has books and don’t have wide shelves, you may want to consider adding some sort of barrier so they don’t wind up on the floor. TVs are also a danger. They could fall over. Not only is that expensive to replace, it could be dangerous. You may want to consider the same for your computer equipment.

Living Room: Make sure your hearth and chimney are earthquake safe. A youngster was killed in the Landers/Big Bear quake from a brick falling out of the fireplace. Also, wire pictures and heavy furniture to studs so they can’t be a problem.

If lighting in the room is via lamp, earthquake putty or wiring to a stud could save the lamp. We ended up replacing every single bulb in every room of the house. The only three rooms that didn’t have that problem were the bathrooms and the kitchen.

Bathroom: Be aware that in many quakes, the water from your toilet will spill out and can spread quite a ways. I also recommend flashlights be kept where they can be reached from both toilet and shower/bath tub. Without light, you could be hurt trying to make your way to the door.

Bedrooms: Keep the beds away from windows and any other sort of large glass object. Wire furniture and pictures to prevent them from falling. Make sure cabinet and closet doors won’t fly open and rain contents on the room.

Garage: My best word of advice? Don’t stay in one during an earthquake. In Northridge, we had a drill press tossed half way across the garage, a motorcycle fell over, parts from the racks were all over the place and the upright freezer came open, spilling its contents.

The worst damage came from the water heater, and in that we were very blessed. I nagged my husband for quite a while before he plumber’s taped the water heater to studs. The flex lines sheared off, making a miniature Niagara Falls. Flex hoses cost around ten bucks. Water heaters are around two hundred, and they also have potable water in them. Three families, including ours did that. Sixty-three others did not and had to completely replace their water heaters.

Take a good look around at each room in your house and think about what could happen if there was an earthquake. If you see a potential danger, find a way to negate it. This way you can protect both yourself and your family.

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