Earthquake Proofing The Kitchen

If you live in an earthquake prone area, there are a few simple things you can do to minimize damage in your kitchen.

Earthquakes can do an endless variety of damage to your property. My home was "red tagged" after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. My house came off its foundation, the roof was precariously leaning, walls had blasted out, and the home was deemed, "uninhabitable". The quake had thrown the top half of the china hutch across the room. It rested upside down against the kitchen wall. However, Great Grandmother's Cake Plate, survived, undamaged. Grandmother's China also survived, along with other keepsakes. How could that be? Several years prior to this 6.9 quake, I had taken a few simple steps to protect these items in the event of an Earthquake.

Prior to the Loma Prieta Quake, the only thing available to hold china in place was Duct tape. It was Primitive, but amazingly affective. Currently, there are several products on the market, which do the same thing without leaving a residue. One line of products I have used since the Loma Prieta quake is removable plastic adhesives. These are inexpensive, look like chewing gum, and are highly effective in holding items in place. You can easily remove items for cleaning and then place them back on the adhesive. Many museums use such products. Plastic adhesives also double as "cat-proofing". Other products on the market include Velcro fasteners. The drawback on these is the residue left behind. You can use the gum-like adhesives to fasten display china, cupboard doors and keep wall hangings straight.

The oversight we had over the movement to our large china hutch was that it had dowels to attach the top half to the bottom. I had previously "quake proofed" the hutch by screwing two heavy cup hooks into the wall and onto the back of the hutch. The bottom half, had no damage, but it had not occurred to me to quakeproof the top half. If you have a china hutch that is two or more sections, be sure to secure all sections to an inside wall. We had a second, one-piece hutch that I had secured to the wall and taped down the collectables, and everything survived.

To protect stacks of "Sunday China", place a paper towel between each plate. Simple, inexpensive and highly effective. If your cups are on cup hooks, make sure they are far enough apart to avoid the damage caused by swinging. Most people in the Loma Prieta and Northridge Quakes experienced the damage of teacups swinging, cracking into each other, falling and breaking other china beneath them. For a little extra money, you can buy locking cup hooks, which may decrease damage, but, again, they need to be far enough apart to avoid cups from swinging into each other.

Power surges often accompany any earthquake and aftershocks. Our refrigerator did sustain damage from the power surges. We now have a surge protector at the electrical outlets for all our major appliances. Food was all over the kitchen floor. To protect against future quakes we attached a cup hook to the wall adjacent to the refrigerator door and some strong string. The extra step in opening the refrigerator door simply requires us to lift the string off the cup hook. This also serves as a handy moment of pause prior to breaking your diet.

We saved much of the "every day china" by fastening extra molding inside cupboards. This provided an extra barrier from plates slipping out of cupboards. Since the quake opened every cupboard and cabinet we had, I was amazed that this simple addition of molding was so effective. In addition, you may want to add "child proof clips on your cupboards and cabinets.

Last step in quake proofing your kitchen is to look at your homeowner's policy. Are you covered in the event of an earthquake? If not, does your basic homeowner's policy cover damage from fallen objects? Reading your policy carefully will assist you in recovering from any quake damage you do experience. Take photos or video camera records of all your items. Include pictures of china, food, spices, utensils, and cups and glasses. Keep your photo record in a safe deposit box or with a family member who does not live in the area.

My Earthquake insurance had a deductible. Most of my deductible was "paid" through my records of everyday items. My husband is a gourmet chef and the replacement value of his collection of spices totaled close to $500.00. The reason we had so much spice damage was that the spice racks did not have additional molding to keep them from sliding and jumping out of the spice racks. The jars were smashed when the top half of the large china hutch landed on them. However, Great-Grandma's Cake Plate that had survived a trip across the Atlantic, The westward movements, and four generations of children, also survived the Loma Prieta Earthquake because it was duct taped to the hutch.

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