Secure Your Furniture, Appliances, and Electronics


Prep in and Around Your House | Strengthen Your Home • Earthquakes

Why does it matter?

The contents of your home can be as dangerous as the structure itself during an earthquake, and may be even more prone to cause harm to you or your family. Any unsecured objects that can move, break, or fall as an earthquake shakes your home are potential safety hazards and property losses. During an earthquake, large pieces of furniture can fall on you or others and block exits which could prevent you from escaping. Anchoring furniture so that it remains in place can prevent injuries and protect your home and its contents.

What do I need to know?

During an earthquake the following household items can become dangerous:

  • Cabinet doors can fly open allowing contents to crash to the floor.
  • Objects such as books, lamps, and other items on shelves and tables can become flying hazards.

Where do I start?

  • Install latches on cabinet doors to prevent them from opening and spilling out their contents.
  • Secure your water heater, refrigerator, and other major appliances with the appropriate straps screwed into the wall studs or masonry to help keep them from falling over and rupturing gas or electric connections.
  • Support ceiling fans and light pendants with the use of bracing wire secured to a screw eye embedded at least an inch into the ceiling joist.
  • Secure heavy furniture like bookcases, china cabinets, and entertainment centers with flexible fasteners and make sure they are away from beds, sofas, desks, or other places where people sit or sleep.
  • Furniture can be anchored with metal “L” brackets and screws along its top or sides (either inside or outside of the furniture) with screws through its back or with nylon strapping.
  • Ensure anchoring screws penetrate not just the wall, but the studs behind it too. Screws only in drywall or plaster will pull out.
  • Before anchoring a bookcase with screws through its back, ensure the back is sturdy and securely attached to the sides, top, and bottom. Some bookcases have backs of very thin materials, held in place with small screws or staples that can easily pull out. Those bookcases should be anchored with brackets.
  • Consider connecting two or more bookcases or file cabinets that sit next to each other to one another and the wall. This can increase the stability of the bookcases or file cabinets.
  • If possible, move all bookcases, file cabinets, and other large pieces of furniture away from exits so that if they do fall, they won't prevent you from escaping.
  • To prevent the contents of your bookcases from falling out, you can install a thin metal or plastic wire, a wood dowel or even an elastic guardrail across the front of each shelf.
  • Keep the tops of your bookcases free of heavy items, especially if they are located near beds or desks, where persons could be injured from falling items.
  • Electronics such as computers, televisions, and microwave ovens are heavy and expensive to replace. Store them on lower shelves and secure them with flexible nylon straps.
  • Ensure that plumbers have installed flexible connectors on all gas appliances.
  • Strap the top and bottom of a water heater using heavy-gauge metal strapping secured to wall studs.
  • Locate your gas shutoff valve and ensure you know how to turn off the gas supply to your home with the use of a suitable wrench.

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