Pasadena, Ca. -- When the magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Imperial County April 4, the powerful temblor knocked computer monitors, television sets, stereos and microwaves and other electronic devices off countertops, tables and shelves, shattering the hardware and creating a mass of e-waste.
The Imperial Valley Resource Management Agency estimated 60 tons of electronic debris had to be collected for recycling and disposal following the shaking, according to its application for federal and state reimbursement for the costs associated with collecting the debris in the month after the earthquake.
Mitigation specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) say with a little time and minimal cost, fragile electronic items can be secured so that they remain safely anchored during an earthquake.
"Many earthquake related injuries in California are caused by falling and moving furniture and electronic equipment such as computers, televisions and stereos," says Ken Worman of Cal EMA, who is serving as State Hazard Mitigation Officer for the earthquake recovery effort. "Making sure these items are properly secured to tabletops, desk tops and shelves will reduce the risk of injuries."
Phillip Wang, FEMA Mitigation Specialist, advises "taking these steps now will prevent injuries, reduce the risk of future damage to property, and minimize the financial burden of having to repair or replace these often expensive items."
Most hardware and home improvement stores carry earthquake safety straps and fasteners that quickly secure electronic equipment yet still allow for easy removal and relocation.
The mitigation specialists say that an item heavy enough to hurt someone if it falls on them or expensive enough to be a significant loss if it breaks from a fall should be secured. And they remind people that things like computer monitors, televisions, stereos and microwaves fit both those categories.
FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) can assist in funding these types of non-structural retrofit projects on an even larger scale such as for critical facilities, public buildings, and schools. FEMA officials encourage local governments to work with Cal EMA and start the process of applying for HMGP.
Additional information about securing electronic and other hazards is available at www.earthquakecountry.info/daretoprepare/secure_your_space.php
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.