If you’re like me, the recent recall of millions of pieces of household furniture in the wake of two children dying due to falling furniture got your attention. I am in the furniture bracing field, and have secured building contents for many years in order to keep things in place when the ground starts shaking from an earthquake.
But disasters come in all sizes and shapes, and their impact is much more than their magnitude or category size. Hurricane Sandy and the earthquake in Haiti, taught us that. And in some instances, a disaster is one piece of furniture falling over.
Check out this video and notice how even low profile furniture can tip over easily under the right circumstances.
Imagine that—such an easy tip-over—with the pressure of one finger!
The way I look at it is if I secure items in anticipation of a major earthquake, it will also be an excellent child safety maneuver. The opposite is also true. My wife lived just a few miles from the epicenter of the 1994 Northridge earthquake and was able to serve a lasagna dinner to her neighbors the night of the earthquake because she had baby-proofed her furniture. She had a curious and climbing two year old.
So, let’s say you’ve decided to secure your furniture—for whatever reason: Earthquakes and/or Kid-Quakes. How do you do that? I will cover that in next week’s blog, but for now let me tell you two things NOT to do.
For years agencies and experts have recommended the following when securing furniture:
- Use flexible fasteners (think strap furniture in place rather than bolt it in place).
- Fasten items to the building structure at wall studs (not into dry wall).
Why? Let me cover these.
The picture below is a typical L-Bracket made of a thin metal. In the Northridge earthquake a lot of these broke when the ground lifted. The wall was moving in a different direction than the floor.
Check out this video of what happened when I twisted this bracket a few times:
While this may not break the first time a child climbs on the furniture, how about the 10th time? The 20th time?Best to stay away from these types of brackets.
Now, quite often drywall anchors are used (sometimes they will be called molly bolts, mollies or toggles). They look like the picture below. The idea is you drill a hole in the wall, pound the plastic holder in place with a hammer, then tighten the screw into the holder. Again, these go into drywall—which is the portion of wall in-between the vertical studs (which are usually sixteen inches apart).
Now, check out the video:
It did take some effort, but I pulled the anchor right out of the wall. Again, how many times would the pressure from a climbing child need to be applied to this wall anchor before the screw comes out. Is that based on the weight of the child, the size and shape of the unit? I’ll tell you one thing, a screw drilled into a wall stud cannot be pulled out.
What’s the bottom line here? What two things do you NOT do? Do not use rigid light-gauge metal l-brackets to secure furniture. Also, do not use drywall anchors to secure furniture.
I recommend, if you are going to secure furniture to keep it from falling over, use the Safe-T-Proof fastening system.
Next week I’ll show you how to install flexible fasteners.