Bookcase Earthquake Safety

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When an earthquake strikes, furniture can become dangerous because of the rolling and shaking of seismic waves. Knowing how to secure tall furniture such as bookcases before an earthquake increases safety for your family and reduces the risk of damage to your home and property. Proper installation and securing of bookcases and other furniture using L-brackets or nylon straps and screws is inexpensive and easy. Additional steps can be taken to make the bookcase more secure.

Bookcase Should be Attached to Studs

  • When securing a bookcase to a wall, the bookcase must be attached to studs within the wall. Brackets or straps must be attached to the bookcase and installed on a stud for the greatest safety in the event of an earthquake. Wall studs can be located with a stud finder, then marked with a pencil. If possible, attach the bookcase to two studs for increased safety during an earthquake. Brackets or straps should not be installed into drywall as screws can easily pull out of such material, creating a serious hazard during an earthquake.

L-Brackets or Nylon Straps

  • Metal L-brackets or nylon straps are the best options for securing a bookcase. These are available at most local hardware stores and can be easily installed using hardware that comes with the brackets or straps or wood screws, lag screws and a screwdriver.

Secure Cabinet Doors on Bookcase

  • If the bookcase has cabinet doors in addition to open shelving, cabinet latches can be used. Cabinet latches can secure the doors and ensure they will remain closed during shaking. For added protection and safety, locking mechanisms can be installed.

Remove Heavy Objects to Increase Safety

  • Flying objects inside a home can be dangerous during an earthquake. A top shelf on a bookcase is not the appropriate place for trophies, bowling balls, large books or other displays that could become objects of destruction and injury. Remove all large or heavy objects from upper shelves and move them to lower shelves or secure them inside enclosed cabinets.

Cover L-Brackets for Aesthetics

  • If you are concerned with the appearance of the brackets, they can be easily covered. A small amount of interior wall paint can be used to camouflage the brackets where they are attached to the wall studs and effectively hide them. Check your local hardware store for nylon strap colors that may blend more readily with your wall color.

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