Posts Tagged ‘earthquake’

How to earthquake proof your furniture

August 23, 2011

Whenever we stare a natural phenomenon in the face, like say, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake, we often wonder, “how can I keep my family safe?”

As I type this, I would estimate that there are no less than a quarter of a million articles hitting the web right now about being prepared for earthquakes. And so here I won’t echo the pundits’ cry for stockpiling food and water, having an emergency phone tree set up, and keeping your gas tank at least half full.  But I will mention one of the most overlooked, most dangerous, and yet easiest to avoid hazards in the home when it comes to tremors: bookshelves, dressers, and other high furniture.

It takes a big quake to topple a building, but it doesn’t take one to tip over furniture, especially that top heavy shelf, loaded with board books in the kids’ room.

A quick safety install will help you sleep better at night. Most new furniture purchased today comes with these kits included in the assembly hardware. But if not, the hardware is super easy to find. Some of you may already have.

Here’s the basic hardware needed:

Wall Anchor – This style is available in the hardware section in nearly department store, and at just about every hardware store I’ve ever been to. You can certainly find it in the big box stores too. This is hands down the best, easiest to install, and one of the strongest drywall anchors out there. They usually come packaged with corresponding screws. Plus – it’s minimally invasive, which means if you remove it, patching the hole with plaster is piece of cake. For anyone who’s ever struggled with drywall installs, this is a godsend.

Straps or Brackets – There are a lot of different kinds of both straps and brackets on the market. When I’m talking about brackets, I’m talking about a simple “L” bracket, with one end that mounts to the top to the furniture, and the other to the wall. Straps do the same thing and in fact, they might be the easiest way to go. Straps from an old backpack or duffel bag can be cut to length, singed at the ends to avoid fraying, and used just as well. Whether you buy or make the strap, I recommend using a nail to poke pilot holes through both ends where the screws will go. This will keep the strap from twisting around the screw when you install.

Screws – As most of the wall anchors come with screws, you should have what you need for the wall. When attaching the strap or bracket to the furniture however, a wood screw is best. You should choose one that is slightly shorter that the panel your screwing into is thick. I recommend drilling a hole that is smaller then the screw. This will avoid the wood from cracking, and will ease screwing. Be careful not to drill all the way through the panel. Also avoid making a hole that is the same size or larger than the screw itself as this will prevent it from getting any bite into the wood. If this happens, simply stick a toothpick or two into the hole, and break it off clean at the surface of the panel. This will fill the hole enough to make the screw go in tightly.

Final steps – Once your wall anchor is installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and you’ve made your pilot hole in the furniture, you’re ready to tie the two together. Use washers as these will prevent the screws from slipping through the bracket or through the pilot holes you made in the strap.

Tighten everything snug. The holes in both the dry wall, wood or press-board furniture can easily strip if over tightened.

And that should do it.

A bit of a disclaimer here – I’m no expert and please don’t take my suggestions as gospel. The procedure above is simply something I’ve done in my home, that if nothing else, helps me sleep at night knowing I’ve lessened the risk for my family. The risk is not gone. But it is less.


Reflections on the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster

March 22, 2011

A Mother’s Love
by Kumi Pinneo

– English translation from a Japan Sankei News article, March 21, 2011

[ … She doesn’t raise her voice to call his name anymore.

It has been nine days after the terrible disaster for a mother looking for her 9-year-old son, in a twisted place where his elementary school once stood.

“I know he is not alive, but he must be very cold in there – I just wanna hold him in my arms and take him out of the dark and cold place,” she said.

Her son was at school when the huge earthquake shook Japan. Few if any, especially that boy’s mother, expected a giant tsunami would eat the whole town only a few minutes later.

In those moments, all the students ran to high ground to escape. But the power of nature was bigger than any could imagine. The monster tsunami swallowed 108 students in one relentless bite.

Only 24 students survived. Many bodies are still under knots of rubble, splintered schools, homes, cars and trees. Many parents still today come to this place to look for their children’s bodies … ]

ISHINOMAKI, Miyagi Pref., Japan - Small bags near the Ooakawa School, Mar. 18, 2011, where numerous children went missing after a tsunami engulfed the building. (Japan Sankei News)

As a mother of two boys, it just hurts my heart so much to read that.

How could I face the fact if I lost them? How could I face that fact if I couldn’t find their bodies in the wreckage, knowing they are in that dark and cold place? How could I control myself?

The mother above was not crying or screaming or going crazy.
She just looked and looked and looked for her beloved son.

As a mother, I strive to protect my sons from any danger and I will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. But what if their safety is out of my control?  What if we cannot protect our children from injury or death?

What would I do?

What would I feel?

I have no idea. I can’t even imagine.

I feel for that mother in Japan so much. I really feel her – as if I was her. But I think that what I am feeling for her is not even one percent of what she is feeling.

Such as it is with earthquakes and tsunami, the power of nature is strong and often human beings have no power over it and it just happens. The Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster was no one’s fault. It just happened. It happened just as spring arrives in one’s town.

Can that mother blame someone or something? No, she can not.

What is she feeling right now? I pray that we will never know.

Let’s hug and kiss our children when they leave the house each day for school.
When they leave, let’s not forget to let them know – to make them feel – that they are so loved.
Sometimes they give us a hard time whining, fussing, ignoring us, yelling and distracting.

However we do not want to regret. We do not want to look back, at the moments that we didn’t give them hugs and kisses, and wish we had.

~ With love and respect to all the mothers in Japan who lost their children, but not their hope.

Please Help Japan

March 13, 2011

Please support the recovery effort in Japan, by donating to one of the following organizations. Some make it as simple as texting.


Donate via Google Crisis Response



Donate via iTunes



Donate via Doctors without Borders




Donate via the American Red Cross
Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10



Donate via The Salvation Army
Text QUAKE to 80888 to donate $10



Donate via Save the Children


“Generosity brings happiness at every stage of its expression.
We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous.
We experience joy in the actual act of giving something.
And we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given.”
— Siddhārtha Gautama