Earthquake Proofing the Pantry

So I finally got around to earthquake proofing the pantry. All it took was a bunch of four foot bungee cords which seemed to have just about the right amount of stretch to span our seven foot shelves. You could probably use the same four foot bungee cords to span an even longer shelf. I used eye hooks to anchor the ends of the cords.

Looking at the picture, the height of the cords on some of the shelves might not be optimal (looks like some of the jars could slip under in a good shaking). But, all in all, I’m pleased with the results.

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  1. Great idea! My main concern in an earthquake is the shelf not hold onto the wall and coming crashing down anyways. Of course I’m always looking at the worst case scenario.

  2. Good idea, but I am concerned about using glass jars, the could break even if they don’t fall off the shelves(a whole lot of shaking going on)..plastic jars aren’t any better(BPA), but they wouldn’t break

  3. I used salvaged openwork wooden shelves as earthquake-proofing for my pantry, held in place with the kind of bungee elastics used to hold tarps in place. (pictures and details here:

    My understanding and experience is that glass jars do just fine in earthquakes unless they bang into something, having been through numerous quakes both in California and in Washington state, jars on shelves mostly were okay, unless they fell off and hit the floor

  4. Tornadoes are much more of a worry in our part of the country. To that end, since it is not practical to keep everything in the basement, my pantry is right in the center of the house next to the main beam. I do keep the home canned goods in the basement, next to a west wall, hoping that in the event of a tornado at least most of them would be safe. I like the bungee cord idea, though, as it could be useful in general, earthquakes or not.
    Cathy Geary

  5. Bungie cords are useful. But, I would use heavy sewing elastic, doubled back for strength and nailed down. At any rate, cheap nails and cheap elastic would suit me better. I am afraid of bungie cords, having been hit with them when they slip or snap. Really, I am very careful with them, since one slip with a child in the way could be disastrous for an eye.

    The elastic would have to be wide. Plus, I have lots of 2″ twill tape.

    Canning jars that rattle against shelves or each other can be damaged just enough that they will shatter next time in the pressure cooker.

    Actually, I am the cause of most disasters with falling jars or can of food.

  6. Here in the Buffalo area we as a rule I generally don’t have earthquakes or rather earthquakes that cause jars to fall off of pantry shelves, but I do have a cat the will climb where he shouldn’t. I used plastic(damp cellar)clothesline rope woven similar to a net on my shelving units.

  7. Parsimony: I’ve gotten snapped a few times by bungee cords, so now when I have to remove them I use a two-hand method. With one hand, I hold the fabric part of the bungee firmly about a foot or so from the end and with the other, I unhook it. This prevents the cord from snapping in my face. So far this has been working well.

    The biggest danger to glass jars around here is that I might trip over a cat while carrying jars to the pantry. They all have an affinity for ankles (the cats, not the jars) and seem to have a special sense that I’m carrying something breakable.

  8. Nice! I’m glad to see all that you’ve put up nice and protected. I am so incredibly happy we don’t have earthquakes here…not sure I could deal!

  9. I would worry that, with a bungee, the cumulative weight of several jars shifting forward might be enough to stretch it and let the jars slip off the shelf. Would wire be better? Maybe the plastic coated stuff they sell for clotheslines.

  10. It would be better to use a dowel or a small strip of wood like you would find on a boat. The jars will just bounce against this…..bottom line: CHANGE IT.

  11. I keep my bottled foods in their original boxes with the dividers. I keep them on shelves where I have nailed and edge of long wood stripping between the shelf posts. I still worry as we are pretty sure there will be an earthquake here in Utah.

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