There’s not much you can do as a renter to protect your apartment from earthquakes, but you can take steps to protect your belongings. Your life and safety is more important than your things, and trying to stop items from falling or getting damaged won’t even cross your mind when it happens. Taking preventative steps beforehand will help to minimize or avoid loss and damage.
1. Gas Shut Off Tool
Purchase a gas shut off tool and know how to use it. A gas leak can cause a fire or explosion during an earthquake. The tool allows you to quickly turn off the gas going to your stove, by turning the valve. Knowing how to locate the valve ahead of time and how to shut it off may save your life. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask your landlord or property manager for help.
2. Secure Items to Wall
Don’t use double sticky tape to hang up artwork, mirrors and other things on walls if you live in an earthquake prone area. Fasten them to the walls with nails and brackets, so that they’re less likely to fall during an earthquake. This not only protects your apartment from damage, but it keeps you safe as you won’t have art frames and glass falling on your head. Even if your area doesn’t see many earthquakes, you should apply this safety principle as well.
3. Fragile Items
Some renters like to display china and glassware in cabinets, by placing them on high shelves for everyone to see. While this makes for a nice apartment decor, you will lose them in an earthquake. If you’re more concerned about protecting them from damage, put them on low shelves instead. Use a cabinet that you can lock up, and secure the cabinet to the wall so that it doesn’t fall over.
4. Brackets and Anchoring Systems
There are ways to attach heavy furniture, computer monitors and towers, and other appliances by securing them to the walls and to the floor with furniture brackets. These are attached to the back of your furniture or other heavy objects, and to the wall as well. They won’t tip over, and can keep you safe in an earthquake. It also keeps your baby and toddler safe when they bump against it or try to pull it down. They’re easy to install and be simple brackets or more complex anti-tip anchoring systems. The latter is a more sturdy option.
Protect your kitchen items by installing latches on kitchen cabinets. The doors will fly open in an earthquake, and throw all of your dishes, pots and pans on the floor. Avoid damaging your kitchen goods with latches that you can buy at any hardware store. Ask your landlord permission first, so that it doesn’t become any issue with your security deposit.
Purchase renter’s insurance to cover any loss of items due to an earthquake. This may require a separate policy or a rider. The landlord’s homeowner’s or property insurance will protect apartment structures and fixtures, but not your personal belongings.