Part 3

Protecting Your Home's Contents
Large Appliances & Furniture
File Cabinets
Computers, VCRs & Other
More TIps
Cupboards & Drawers
Putty & Gel Fasteners
Velcro Tape
Electric Shutoff
Gas Shutoff
Automatic Gas Shut-off Valves
Propane Tanks
Water Shutoff
Additional Help
Scrumptious Skies


One popular product, A-Maze-ing is designed to prevent pictures, plates and mirrors up to 100 lbs. (45 kg) from jumping off their hooks during an earthquake. It does this by trapping the hanging wire in a maze. Kits include 4 hangers for about US$6. (lower left)

A closed hook variety that screws into a wall stud (far right) can be found in most hardware stores.

Velco makes Picture Grippers (not shown) which come in a package of 4 and
run about US$2 package. They secure the corners of the picture againstthe wall, but don't support it full weight. One side attaches to picture, the other to the wall.

Another product is the Perfect Picture Hanging System (not shown). This industrial hook was originally used for commercial restraints, but works well when to hang very large and heavy art, pictures and mirrors. Each hook is able to handle hundreds of pounds without a problem and has a "keeper bar" that prevents the wire from jumping off or being released from the hook. A package of 5 hangers is generally about US$4.

A different type of picture hanger is a durable nylon wall bracket with an attached strap that snaps over the picture wire. Each package is enough to secure two pictures up to 10 lbs. (4.5 kg) each, or one large picture or mirror up to 20 lbs (9 kg). Cost is around US$8.


There are many closures for cupboards and drawers varying in cost, appearance and performance. Besides using no safety latch, the least effective method is the magnetic type that doesn't provide a physical hooking device. Beyond that, there is plenty selection to fill a variety of uses.

Consider where the latch will be used as some are more suitable for basement or garage use. Cabinets that are rarely opened are best suited for locks such as the child-proof slide pictured upper right. Other latches are attractive and functional making them ideal for the rest of the home. Most latches will cost US$2 - $5.


Quake Hold! putty and gel (also sold under the name "Museum Hold") are non-toxic and ideal for collectibles and other glass valuables. The gel and putty are great for figurines that are the slightest bit tippy, or if you have people or pets prone to banging into your shelves and cabinets. (Seismo?)

The gel (used in the center photo) works beautifully on glass shelves and objects since it's clear. It's recommended for completely waterproof surfaces like glass, crystal, porcelain, laminated plastic, tile, polished granite, certain varnished wood, and metal. To remove your figurine, rock the piece gently to break its hold to the shelf.

The putty used in the left photo might be more suited to non-transparent items. Both putty and gel have the same amount of holding power, will adhere to the same types of surfaces and can be re-used many times. To use, scoop out a small portion with the pick provided, roll into a ball or strip and apply to the bottom of the object. Press object to table top and turn slightly. To remove the object, use mineral spirits and/or "slice under the bottom of the object with dental floss.

One 4 oz. jar of the Quake Gel will secure up to 300 items and costs in the neighborhood of US$12. The same amount of Museum Wax (putty) is a couple dollars more.


Ultra-strength Velcro tape works great to secure most types of miscellaneous items to the desk surface or to bookshelves
or file tops. Comes in "cut-to-length" rolls. Quake Tape generally runs: 1" x 3 ft. roll - US$10; 1" x 9 ft. roll -US $25; 1" x 25 yd. roll - US$160



For electric power, turn off the main toggle switch only.

Locate the main electrical shutoff. Your house may be equipped with fuses or circuit breakers. If your house has fuses, you will find a knife switch handle (pictured left) that should be marked "MAIN." If your house has circuit breakers (pictured right), you may need to open the metal door of the breaker box to see the circuit breakers (never remove the metal cover). The main circuit breakers should be clearly marked showing on and off positions. If you have any subpanels adjacent to the main fuse or breaker panel or in other parts of the house, be safe and also shut them off in an emergency.

It's a good idea that all family members know how to turn off utilities in case of emergency.


Locate the main gas shutoff (usually outside the house) and all pilot lights. Clear the area around the shutoff valve for quick and easy access in case of emergency. Attach the wrench (or specialty tool for turning off gas and water - see bottom left graphic) to a pipe next to the shutoff valve or in another easily accessible but hidden location. Painting the shutoff valve with white or fluorescent paint will help you locate it in an emergency.

If you're concerned about your ability to turn off the main gas shutoff valve, are unsure whether it works properly (it may have rusted together), or don't know how to relight the pilot lights, contact your local gas company. They can send a service representative to your house to show you the proper procedure and check to see that everything is working properly.

If you turn off a natural gas supply line, many cities require that it must be turned on only by qualified technicians at the gas company. If this is the case for your are, notify them at the earliest opportunity of your actions.

This special tool is available at some hardware stores for shutting off gas and water. A crescent wrench will also work as long as access to the water valve is reachable.


Text and Graphics, 2001 Stan and Holly Deyo, except where otherwise credited