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How To Disaster-Proof Your Home

I know it`s been said and written a million times, but let me be the 1,000,001th who warns you that “disasters are unpredictable”. They really are and you know what`s ironic? You can never tell the full effect of this reality until you get hit by a disaster that you`re not prepared for. Not only that you realise your family could have died, but then you have to face the aftermath: assessing damages, long and persistent calls with the insurance company, a huge hole in the budget, a whole load of stress and a general mood that`s dangerously close to depression.

Unfortunately, these things are pretty much unavoidable… but what you can do is take a series of safety measures that bring down potential damages to a minimum. This way, the dreaded aftermath will not be as long and tormenting (physically, emotionally and financially) as it would normally be.

A good way to minimize damages is to secure the furniture and other goods in your home, both for your sake and their integrity. For example, there have been many accidents with bookcases or other tall furniture falling over people and killing or maiming them during earthquakes. Also, TV sets or expensive sound systems were completely damaged during floods.

Today, I`ll show you a few things you can do around the house to protect yourself and your valuables. And I`ll start off with some…

General tips on disaster-proofing your home

I read them on furniture.about.com and I`ve already implemented them in my home, I hope you will in yours, too: 

  • When you live in an earthquake zone, try to place beds away from windows. Shattering glass can cause injuries. If it is not possible to place the bed too far from the window owing to room size, have a window covering in place to catch the glass. Blinds, curtains, window films all work.
  • Do not position heavy wall art on the wall behind a bed.
  • Avoid shelves with objects directly above the bed.
  • Secure tall and heavy pieces such as book shelves, armoires, and chests to the wall. Flexible nylon straps are widely available, and they can help you secure these furniture pieces to the wall.
  • Your heavy electronic equipment should also be secured. Televisions should be on stands meant to hold them securely and fastened with the help of brackets or nylon straps specifically meant for the job.
  • Hanging objects such as mirrors and heavy picture frames should also be secured with the help of special hanging hooks, screws and adhesive strips.
  • Valuable collectibles and breakable decorative objects can be secured to a surface with the help of earthquake putty or special gels.
  • Place floor lamps so they do not topple over. Choose heavy bases and place behind sofas, chairs or tables.
  • Secure tall and heavy pieces such as book shelves, armoires, and chests to the wall. Flexible nylon straps are widely available, and they can help you secure these furniture pieces to the wall.
  • Your heavy electronic equipment should also be secured. Televisions should be on stands meant to hold them securely and fastened with the help of brackets or nylon straps specifically meant for the job.
  • Hanging objects such as mirrors and heavy picture frames should also be secured with the help of special hanging hooks, screws and adhesive strips.
  • Valuable collectibles and breakable decorative objects can be secured to a surface with the help of earthquake putty or special gels.
  • Place floor lamps so they do not topple over. Choose heavy bases and place behind sofas, chairs or tables.

Anchoring bookcases and tall closets is crucial, so don`t miss the following video that show how you (or anyone else in the family who`s old enough to operate a drill press) can disaster-proof heavy furniture

 

And if you ever want to invest in new furniture, check out LifeGuardStructures.com. These guys make disaster-proof furniture that`s “designed to be stronger than virtually all of its surroundings.” And it looks great, too.

disaster-proof furniture

But what about your other valuables? How do you secure your computers, your TV set or audio system? Here`s a series of step-by-step instructions from EarthquakeCountry.info on how to secure electronics with Velcro.

  • Choose a Velcro™-type product that has adhesive on the back.
  • Cut the Velcro™ into large squares. You will need four squares to secure most items, one for each leg or corner of the item.
  • Press the two sides of the Velcro™ together.
  • Remove the paper from the backs of the Velcro™ to expose the adhesive.
  • With the Velcro™ still pressed together, stick it on the legs or corners of the item, and then place the item on the shelf or countertop where you want it located.

In case of flood…

…anchoring the furniture of Velcro-ing your electronics won`t be enough. This will prevent the heavy bookcase from falling on you, for example, but the water will still ruin it. However, here`s what you can do to minimize the damage:

  • Roll up your carpets and place them on the tallest furniture in the house.
  • Move all your valuables on top shelves, so the water can`t reach them.
  • Put your electronics in large plastic wrapping and seal them in with scotch tape.
  • Don`t forget to put all your important personal documents and vital medical supplies in waterproof cases and place them somewhere accessible.

Now, if you don`t have time to do all this, just forget about it and leave the house. Your family`s life is more important than anything, so don`t lose them or your own life over some furniture or computers, ok?

I hope you`ll follow these instructions closely and anchor all your heavy furniture and secure your valuables this weekend. You may never know when a disaster strikes, so why not start preparing now?

 

By Alec Deacon

 

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