Matt Springer has been giving presentations around San Francisco about home earthquake preparedness since 2008 (for more information about the presentation, go to his earthquake preparedness website). This blog is devoted to posts ranging from technical "how-to" articles to more philosophical "should-you" topics. New articles will be posted at most about once a month, so people who subscribe won't be subjected to lots of e-mail.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Simple ideas for making sure your phone and eyeglasses stay on your nightstand

Here’s a relatively short article with some simple ideas for preventing the useful items on your nightstand from flying away in an earthquake.  I already described how I keep my flashlight easily accessible a few years ago.  However, I also keep my eyeglasses and my cell phone on my nightstand when I’m sleeping, and it would sure be nice if they remained handy if a quake hit while I was in bed.  My approach is not rocket science but I figured I’d share it.

The astute reader will discern several things by looking at this photo of my nightstand.  (1) It’s in terrible shape (it’s an end table from the 1970s currently in its 10th life), but that is not really relevant.  (2) My eyeglasses case is right next to me under stationary conditions.  (3) My iPhone is charging in a nice convenient stand. 

You can kind of see the flashlight on the lower level, but concentrate on the upper level.  Here’s how those objects are held in place. 

First, the cell phone.  Pretty simple: that charging stand is stuck to the surface of the end table with quake putty, since I never need to move the charging stand and it even makes it easier to remove the phone from the charger with one hand.  I might have been hesitant to put quake putty on bare wood if the nightstand was some great antique, but considering my nightstand is a non-great “antique” full of water marks, I’m fine with it.

Second, the glasses case.  I like to be able to pick up the glasses case when putting my glasses into it at night or taking them out in the morning, so I didn’t use putty.  One could potentially come up with a Velcro-based solution, but I decided to use magnets and my favorite 3M Command Strips (the sticky tape with a tab that you can pull to make it stop being sticky and release from a surface).  In this case, I used the clear Command strips, so you don’t have ugly white tabs on the dark wood furniture.  Again, I would hesitate to put these strips on good wood furniture.  I used those strips to stick down a couple of strong magnets, figuring I’d attach other magnets or a metal plate to the bottom of the glasses case.  However, as luck would have it, the glasses case was already paramagnetic so I didn’t have to add anything else to it.  I just stuck down the magnets to the table, and now if I even put the case close to the right place and let go, it jumps right to where it should be; quite helpful in the dark.

Now, these may still fly off if the quake is large enough, but it’s nice to know they are at least discouraged from leaving.  Velcro might be safer, but I do like the idea of being able to pull the glasses case off without making an audible noise that could wake up someone else in the bed.

The touch light visible in the photo is actually also stuck down with putty.  None of the other objects are stuck down, like the wireless remove for my floor heater or the wired remote that adjusts the firmness of the bed.

I’m sure that those reading this could easily come up with similar solutions on their own.  The point of this little exercise is really to plant the suggestion in your head that it’s worthwhile to keep important objects at hand if a quake hits while you are asleep in bed.  As I pointed out at the end of the flashlight article, this is all moot if the nightstand moves away from the bed, so you might consider discouraging it from sliding if necessary, perhaps by putting rubber non-skid pads under the feet.  

Of course, if these essential objects stay on the nightstand and you tumble out of bed, then I guess the joke is on you.  Somehow, resorting to velcro pajamas and bedsheets seems like a bit much, although it could possibly benefit the space program.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Should I stay or should I go?...the inevitable dilemma about staying in the building during an earthquake

This month, we are taking a break from the actual preparedness issues and will instead delve further into this annoyingly counter-intuitive recommendation to not run out of buildings during earthquakes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

An amazing story from the past, AND more about hanging pictures that won’t come crashing down (the wired and non-wired varieties)

Even though I don’t plan on posting very often so  I don’t add to the e-mail overload of people who subscribe, it just makes sense to post something on April 18th, the anniversary of the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906.  There are two items on today’s plate: first a link to a then-young woman’s amazing description of what she experienced in the 1906 quake, and then I wanted to discuss a bit more about hanging pictures on the walls safely.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Important information about the recurring "Triangle of Life" e-mail spam

Thoughts about the much-publicized North American earthquake prediction for late March 2011

"Why the heck do you live in that place with earthquakes??"

A blog is launched; opening thoughts

This is my first experience authoring a blog, and there will probably be a few technical bumps along the way.  Earthquake safety is an important topic in a place like the San Francisco Bay Area, and I hope that the information and occasional thoughts and tips here will be of interest to people who are trying to maximize their safety in our occasionally moving region.

It's important to remember that even though we live in a place that is subject to earthquakes, which are occasionally pretty big, most of the risks associated with California earthquakes can be minimized by taking some precautions ahead of time.  Just like one knows not to go jogging alone in the middle of the night in a dark park in a dangerous part of town, one should know what to do and not to do in regions subject to natural disasters.

I'm kick-starting this blog with a few entries in a row, first introductory and then a few entries that have already been on my website.  After that, I'll post occasionally; perhaps even relatively rarely so that I don't add to people's e-mail burdens.  I've got no idea about how many people will be signing on to this, but welcome to those that do!

-Matt Springer

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