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February 22, 2008 at 11:55 AM EST
Simple Steps Can Reduce Damage From Earthquakes

TAMPA, Fla., Feb. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Recent rumblings in Nevada have residents there and in other at-risk areas wondering how to protect their homes and businesses from earthquakes.

"Where there's risk there's reason to prepare," said Wendy Rose of the Institute for Business & Home Safety. "Much of the damage to residential and commercial property interiors during these sudden events can be prevented by taking simple steps to keep things in place when the ground shakes."

IBHS recommends the following measures:

Secure items inside

Anchor bookcases and filing cabinets to nearby walls.

Install latches on drawers and cabinet doors to keep contents from spilling.

Install ledge barriers on shelves, place heavy items on lower shelves, and secure large, heavy items and breakables directly to shelves to keep them from falling.

Securely attach pictures and mirrors to walls using closed screw-eyes and wire.

Attach computers and small appliances to desks, tables or countertops.

Apply safety film to windows and glass doors.

Anchor large appliances, especially water heaters, to walls using safety cables or straps.

Lock the rollers of any large appliances or pieces of furniture.

Fit all gas appliances with flexible connections and/or a breakaway gas shut-off device, or install a main gas shut-off device. (Building codes will say whether a professional must install them.)

Structural home retrofit measures include:

Adding anchor bolts or steel plates between your home and its foundation.

Bracing the inside of your home's cripple wall -- the short wood-stud wall between the top of the foundation and the first floor -- with sheathing.

Bracing unreinforced chimneys, masonry and concrete walls and foundations.

Visit the IBHS web site for more information and property protection projects for this and other hazards, plus tools to help business owners create disaster plans.

IBHS is a nonprofit, scientific and educational organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.

Source: Institute for Business & Home Safety

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