Why and How to Use Earthquake Straps
Earthquake straps are a must-have if you live somewhere prone to geologic activity. They'll hold heavy items of furniture in place during an earthquake to reduce the risk of damages and injury, and are especially highly recommended for bookcases, which can deal considerable damage if they topple.Posted — Updated
Start by unloading the furniture and pulling it from the wall to locate the studs. You can use a stud-finding tool for this or rely on the trick of tapping the wall and listening to hear the heavier sound indicative of a stud rather than insulation. It's important to anchor to a stud, because otherwise the strap may pull out during an earthquake. Depending on the design of the product you've purchased, you may need to attach it to the wall first or to the furniture first, so check the directions carefully. If you're working in masonry, concrete, or drywall, use an anchor into the stud; if you don't, the screw could pull out during an earthquake, sending the furniture toppling.
Prepare the item you're anchoring by drilling holes into the site where you'll be inserting the hardware, if directed to do so. Make sure to choose a point where the furniture is solid, rather than a weak point like a joint that could fracture when you drill or under the strain of an earthquake. Follow the installation directions for the strap carefully, taking care to apply the screws or fixative glue exactly as directed to avoid an unsafe installation.
For additional safety, you might want to consider installing barrier straps or strips at the front of the furniture if it's open or has doors that might easily swing out. These prevent items from tipping out in the event of an earthquake; for something like a bookcase, this can prevent injuries and a huge mess if the bookcase stays in place but all the books go flying. In the case of items like china and antique cabinets, the straps will prevent catastrophic damage to prized household items that might otherwise topple out during an earthquake. Adhesive gels and tapes are also available for specialty items like sculptures.