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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Secure items in your home to help ensure earthquake safety

Secure items.jpgOklahoma has long been known to be a part of tornado alley. However, in recent years, the state has knocked California from the top spot in terms of the number of earthquakes.

While the shake, rattle and roll can be unnerving, there are some steps homeowners can take to help ensure their safety during an earthquake.

Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist, said an earthquake can shake everything in your home, even large, heavy items.

“Preparing your home beforehand is so essential,” Peek said. “Earthquake shaking can move almost anything, even big, heavy items in your home.”

Start your earthquake preparations by taking a good look around your home. Go on a earthquake hazard hunt. Look for unsecured items such as bookcases, televisions, hot water tanks or computers. A study from the University of California, Los Angeles, showed 55 percent of the injuries in a magnitude 6.7 earthquake in California in 1994 were caused by falling furniture or objects. Only 1 percent of injuries were caused by building damage.

“Many of these injuries could have been prevented if proper precautions had been taken ahead of time,” she said. “Fortunately, many of these things can be done at no cost or very little cost.”

To begin with, move heavy and large objects to the floor or low shelves. Move things that can fall on you away from where you spend a lot of time. For example, it may look pretty, but that heavy, ornate picture frame should not be hung on the wall over the bed. Simply moving objects around is free and can save a life.

Some low-cost measures to consider include securing the water heater to the wall studs with two metal straps. In addition, secure top-heavy furniture and appliances to wall studs. Strapping materials are available at the hardware store. Smaller decorative items can be held in place using putty or wax, which can be found at your local craft store.

Peek said some other safety measures include be moving flammable liquids, such as painting or cleaning products, into child secure areas in the garage or shed. More information is available on the FEMA website at fema.gov.

“Something else to consider is creating a disaster plan for your family and deciding how you’ll communicate with one another in the event of an emergency,” Peek said. “Remember, this earthquake emergency plan can be adapted for other emergencies such as a tornado, flood or fire. It’s always a good idea to have a disaster kit prepared that you can easily grab and go, if needed. Include things such as flashlights, extra batteries, bottled water, shelf-stable snacks, medications and other items your family would need should you have to either shelter in place or go to a shelter for a few days. If you have pets, make sure you have supplies ready for your furry friends, too.”

Oklahomans know the importance of preparing for storms. Now that the state has taken over as the earthquake capital, take time to prepare. It could very well save a life.



Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
159 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078