My wife and I live in western Oregon, earthquake country. The "Big One" is due. Maybe overdue. But even a smaller earthquake can do a lot of damage.
Seven years ago we had our house retrofitted to make it better able to withstand a major earthquake. Back in 1974, when the house was built, earthquake-ready building standards weren't as rigorous as they are now.
However, recently it dawned on us how unprepared our kitchen cabinets were. Including -- gasp! -- the cabinet where we keep our modest "wine cellar" (eleven bottles at the moment).
If we ever have to suffer through the aftermath of a major earthquake, I damn well want to have some wine available. Post Big One-reality is going to be easier to deal with if I'm not always completely in touch with it.
So today I got around to putting in some Seismolatch cabinet latches that we'd bought on Amazon a while back. This appealingly simple product turned out to be easy to install and, apparently, effective. A You Tube video shows a simulated earthquake test, which naturally I wasn't able to do.
But since we have a set of double cabinets above our refrigerator, I could jiggle the Seismolatch hook and see what happened. Result: it latched!
Here are the two Seismolatches in our wine cabinet. The latch on the left is in the "ready" position, with the hook balanced vertically. The latch on the right is in the "earthquake" position, with the hook released. Once released, the hook keeps the door closed, as shown below.
There's no worry about the doors being stuck closed once a hook is released. With the other cabinet door closed, I was able to easily stick a finger into the door opening that's left when the Seismolatch hook is attached and lift the hook out of the slot.
It's an impressive product. The written instructions weren't completely clear. However, some Sesimolatch instruction videos showed me how simple the installation process is.
I put eight of the ten latches in this afternoon. After the first one, I could install each of the rest in about ten minutes. I drilled pilot holes for the small screws, then screwed them in by hand. Our cabinets are made of a hard wood (maple, I think). My cordless drill wasn't going to put the screws in without a pilot hole.
After installation, the cabinets look exactly the same from the outside. This is one reason why we were attracted to the Seismolatch. Putting a latch on the outside wouldn't have looked good, and we would have needed to unhook it every time we opened the cabinet.
For $25 (the 10-pack price, including free shipping with Amazon Prime) we got a lot of peace of mind. I was planning to only put a few of the Seismolatches in today. But once I started, it was sort of like earthquake prevention potato chips: I couldn't stop with just one or two.
I kept visualizing what almost certainly would be on the floor, broken and unusable, after a major earthquake. And what a mess we'd have to clean up, adding to the stress of an already super-stressful situation.
Cabinet 1: the aforementioned wine
Cabinet 2: wine glasses, other glasses, coffee cups
Cabinet 3: bowls, plates
And so it went, through eight cabinets, including two glass-fronted display cases with a bunch of glassware inside. My wife had afixed museum putty to keep the glassware on the shelves in an earthquake. However, the Seismolatches should be much more reliable.
If you also live in earthquake country, I encourage you to look around your house and consider how secure the stuff in cabinets is. Well, how secure the stuff everywhere is.
There's a big difference, though, between picking cans of food or items of clothing off of the floor, and having to deal with innumerable bits of glass. And the contents of broken glass containers.
I hope we never will learn how Seismolatch functions in a major earthquake. I'm pretty sure the device will work as advertised. Regardless, I've already gotten a big benefit from installing the Seismolatches (more have been ordered).
Feeling like we're better prepared for the Big One.
[Update: it's easy to test the Seismolatch on double doors, because you can push the hook with your finger. On single doors, I've used an eyeglasses holder (or it could be a piece of string with a loop), looping the end past the hook and down as far as possible. Close the door, with the other end of the string/whatever extending on the outside of the door. Pulling on the string will release the hook, leaving you confident that the Seismolatch works. I've never found that it hasn't, but it still feels good to do the test.]