Preparing for the the possibility of an earthquake can be a very daunting task. Dan Edward Phillips, Broker Eureka, California provides us with some very timely advice on how to get more adequately prepared
Book's and Bookcase's present special hazards during an earthquake as many residents of Humboldt County, California have found out.
Bookcases 'fall over' in an earthquake damaging other furniture, the floor in front of them and are a hazard to anyone in the area when they do fall, including pets. The books they are holding are easily damaged when they fall out and both the bookcase and books may obstruct an exit route from your home. This is a very critical item if someone in the family uses a wheel chair, walker etc.
Take a look at where you have placed the bookcases in your home, taking into consideration the members of your family and consider relocating them if they present a significant hazard during an earthquake.
All bookcases need to be securely attached to the wall behind them in earthquake country. There are brackets available to accomplish this task. The bracket must be securely attached to the book case. If the book case is made of composition wood or plywood, it may require a bolt, nut and washers to secure the bracket to the bookcase through the top. Wood screws will 'pull out' of this type of material under the stress of an earthquake and the book case will still fall over.
The side of the bracket that goes against the wall must be aligned with a wall stud, preferably in the middle of the book case. The bracket must be secured to the wall stud with fasteners that are both long enough and strong enough to resist the forces created during an earthquake. Check with your local lumber yard on the strength of the fasteners you select and do not hesitate to spend a little extra on them.
Just because the bookcases are secured to the wall does not mean the books will not "shake" out of the bookcases. You could still end up with a large pile of books in front of the bookcase. If your book cases are of the inexpensive variety consider adding a 1 inch by 1 inch strip of wood to the front of each shelf to prevent the books from sliding out. Attach it with finishing nails or glue it and clamp it tightly while the glue dries.
If you have expensive custom made book shelves; book ends may keep your books on the shelves during an earthquake. The book ends you want to use are the inexpensive metal ones from Staples etc. that have a metal tab that slides under the last few books. Attach a material to the bottom on the book end that will resist movement and remember to keep the book ends tight against the row of books.
A little prevention now may keep you from cleaning up a big mess later!
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