There have been many people affected by earthquakes. However, there are many hazards that the average homeowner should be aware of. Let’s look at California, the earth is constantly moving as a result of seismic activity. At any moment, your home, or building is one earthquake away from severe structural damage or even worse, a complete collapse.
Foundation & earthquake experts and professionals are always finding ways to increase the probability that intended levels of earthquake protection will be achieved. There are many non-structural hazards you may not be aware of that can increase your risk of injuries and fatalities within your home.
The three main non-structural hazards are:
1. Ceiling and Overhead
2. Walls and Wall-Mounted
3. Furniture and Equipment
Unsecured light fixtures: May fall, striking occupants below, or damaging electrical wiring that could start a fire or electrocute nearby occupants. May swing, damaging nearby light fixtures, ducts, or pipes. There is also the popular unreinforced masonry chimney that may collapse, striking occupants below or damaging roof and other structural elements supporting the building. A safe and secure recommendation would be to remove unreinforced masonry chimneys and replaced with an approved chimney with metal flue.
While we enjoy the beauty these nonstructural fixtures bring to our home, it still pose a threat as a detrimental earthquake hazard. These are wall-mounted cabinets, lockers, or closets must be securely fastened to wall stud. Interior walls on which cabinets are mounted, if located in a room with suspended ceilings. Cabinet doors should have positive latching device or other means to secure in closed position. A safe and secure recommendation is to install wood or Plexiglas strips across open face of. Install doors on open shelves. Shelves must be secured. Install shelf with a lip to prevent objects from falling off the shelf.
Lastly, file cabinets more than 3 feet in height should either be arranged in groups and fastened together, or secured to an adjacent wall in order to prevent overturning. Cabinets must have latching drawers. A recommendation would be to ensure the cabinet is secured to an adjacent wall, or fastened to adjacent cabinets. Cabinets should have latching drawers. Heavier contents should always be stored in lower drawers of a file cabinet. Locate cabinets away from exits and hallways. Keep cabinet drawers closed, latched, or locked.
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