There are two ways to handle tall, heavy objects. The most common item like this would be bookshelves. You can either secure them or not have them at all. We don’t have bookshelves or other tall items. We have a small spare closet that we built shelves into where we store all of our books. This keeps them secure and from falling on people in the case of an earthquake. But if you do have tall pieces of furniture – strap them to your wall. If you have small children you hopefully are doing this already, but it is really a very important step to earthquake proof your home.
Watch what you put over the beds
Decorations over beds can be pretty, but it’s important to think through what you put over them. For our kids’ beds we don’t have anything over their beds. For our bed, we keep the items light like a photo canvas or garland. I do not want anything big to come crashing down on our heads at night!
Most of the photos on our walls are canvas instead of glass. Originally we chose to do this because they were lighter for our many moves, but we also really love the clean look and style. Canvas wall hangings are very convenient for two reasons. They’re light, so if they do fall on someone they aren’t going to hurt as much. And they aren’t glass, so if they do fall you won’t have glass shattered everywhere.
TVs and Other Large Items
We only have one smaller TV and we keep it on a low trunk where it could do little damage. Anything bigger that you can keep lower is a good idea. If you have a bigger TV or one that is mounted higher, make sure it is truly secure and won’t come crashing down on someone during an earthquake. We had friends who had a giant TV attached to their wall, and it crashed down right where her kids usually were playing. It was very unusual that they weren’t sitting directly under the TV at that time!
Knick-knacks and Minimalism
This a theory not a hard and true fact, but I believe that our efforts to live more minimalist helped. Our knick-knacks are kept to a minimum. We try very hard to only keep things that truly bring us joy or have a purpose. We try to hold items with an open hand, versus needing to keep everything. I truly believe we suffered less loss because we had less. There were very few items to fall off of shelves, because the shelves and items didn’t exist. If you do have lots of knick-knacks consider attaching them to shelves with adhesives or putty to help them stay in place.
Similarly, we have dishes, but not a ton. During the earthquake, the kitchen cupboards swung open and the dishes ended up balancing precariously on the edge of the shelves. Thankfully they hadn’t fallen out. But the plates were short stacks, and the cups were all individually set on a shelf versus stacked. Given the way all the dishes were situated, if they had been stacked higher, some would have inevitably fallen out of the cupboards. The ability for us to not stack our dishes too high in the cupboards really did help in this situation. (In a different or stronger earthquake this would not have made a difference though. This is just an observation for this one time. And I don’t care to live through another earthquake to see if this helps us in another earthquake!)
Beware of Gas Lines and other Fire Risks
Many homes have gas appliances. If you live in an earthquake zone, be sure that they have flexible connections. That way if things shift a little, the connections flex instead of break which can cause a serious gas leak. Also be sure that everyone knows where your fire extinguishers are and how to operate them. Fires can easily happen for a variety of reasons after an earthquake and it can be critical to have quick access to a fire extinguisher. Furthermore, be sure to keep all flammable items away from gas lines – like cleaners, bleach, gasoline, etc.
Do your research
These are just a few simple ideas that we incorporate in our home. In addition to FEMA’s website that I mentioned above, I highly encourage everyone to read more about earthquake preparedness from the USGS website. It is full of valuable information to be sure that you are truly prepared for an earthquake! Be sure to leave me your tips on how to earthquake proof your house below in the comments, and to learn more about our daily Alaskan life, follow us on our Instagram page.