Do you think everything in your home is secure? What happens when you bump into something, or someone bumps into you? You react instinctively to adjust for the bump, putting a hand out to steady yourself or grabbing a plant or bookshelf that looks like it might tip over.
If you weren't home and something shook your home, you might find that plant or bookcase on the floor when you get home. If you've watched any of the earthquake videos from Japan, you quickly realize with everything moving you can't possibly be in 10 places at once.
There are many minor emergencies waiting to happen in a home. You can't stop the earthquake, the hurricane or tornado but you can prepare for those weather emergencies that occur where you live.
The most common hazard at home is probably your two-year old driving their little car around, banging into everything imaginable. I still remember our labrador cowering under the kitchen table to escape this hazard. While our dogs learned to avoid my son and his new wheels, we had a few more mishaps around the house so it was time to secure the furniture. If you've not done this yet, here are tips on spotting potential hazards in your home and securing them for safety.
Kitchen – What's in Your Cabinets?
Think about the hundreds of dishes and cans you have stored in your kitchen cabinets. You'll want to move heavier objects to your base cabinets, and preferably the lower shelves, to reduce the risk of these items hurting someone. Many of us own dishes handed down from our families, so consider adding some type of latch to the cabinets where they're stored to prevent them from opening. You can find metal cabinet door safety latches that are hidden, unlike the visible plastic child safety latches we're used to seeing.
The most important safety precaution in kitchens has to do with gas appliances. You can replace rigid connectors with longer, flexible connectors to reduce the risk of a gas fire. You should also secure refrigerators and other large appliances, i.e. microwaves, that aren't bolted to the wall.
Furniture – What Isn't Tied Down Can (and Will) Move
Tall bookcases should always be secured to the wall as books are heavy, making this single piece of furniture the one most prone to accidents at any time. Other tall and top-heavy pieces of furniture, like file cabinets and dressers, should also be secured. You want to be sure you're anchoring the furniture to the studs inside the wall, not just the drywall. Another consideration is moving tall objects away from beds and sofas.
For collectibles and other objects sitting on your furniture, you'll want to attach them to the surface to reduce the chances of them flying off and hurting someone. You can use either a velcro-like fastener that attaches to the surface and the object or some type of adhesive, like earthquake putty, to secure breakable items in place. Like your kitchen, try to move heavier items to lower shelves.
Walls – Mirror, Mirror … Stay on the Wall
We hang lots of objects on our walls including mirrors, framed pictures and photographs to bulletin boards and more. All of these wall hangings should be hung with closed hooks so they can't bounce and fall off the walls. Hanging items with glass especially, should also be secured at the lower corners with earthquake putty.
When you're decorating and want to hang art objects over beds and sofas, stick to soft art like quilts.
Electronics – Keeping Them Safe
We're adding more and more electronic gadgets to our homes and they're expensive. You might have a lighting rod but you'll still want to equip all of your home electronics with some type of surge protection. You should also secure these items with flexible nylon straps to they don't fall when someone bumps the furniture they're sitting on, or move due to an earthquake or hurricane. Look for straps that have a buckle to make it easy to remove your equipment.
Utilities and Storage Rooms
Sitting in a corner of your garage or basement is your hot water heater that is likely to fall during an earthquake. Hot water heaters should be secured to wall studs with 2 straps to prevent it from rupturing water and/or gas connection lines inside and outside your home. You should also install flexible water connectors to allow for some movement.
Assess other items you're storing in your garage or utility rooms as they might fall and hurt someone or block access to your cars, which you'll need to evacuate the area. Hazardous materials should be stored on lower shelves, or the floor, to minimize damage from falling, causing leaks or spills. If you have young children, be sure to secure any area where you have these hazardous materials stored, i.e. in a closet or enclosed area.
Peace of Mind
Take a close look around your house and see what items could move in the event of an earthquake and secure them. If you have toddlers, this will help you now by ensuring your breakables won’t be inadvertently knocked over and broken or doors of cabinets opened and contents emptied. Securing them now will give you peace of mind and save you heartache, and headache, later – regardless of the event. TRJVTYCJ6RSF