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 Quaketips 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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Special bulletin: potential evidence that push latches can fail during shaking

I have been recommending that people use push latches (a.k.a. touch latches) to prevent cabinet doors from opening for several years.  There have been discussions and debates about whether shaking in the right direction can cause the door to wiggle enough that the latch would disengage.  There are various accounts from people who have experienced quakes while using these latches that the doors don't open, and I have shaken a cabinet and noticed that since the hinge is moving along with the rest of the cabinet, the door doesn't move relative to the hinge so it does not jiggle in and out and the latch does not open.

However, that doesn't mean that some kinds of earthquake motion can't disengage the latches.

Evidence is now emerging from simulations of actual earthquakes of various intensities that these latches may fail more easily than previously thought.  While I don't yet have enough information to warrant no longer recommending the latches because they may still be protective in many earthquake scenarios, I feel the responsible thing for me to do is to alert people about this issue now, and I will post a new article with more comprehensive information in the near future when I have looked into it more fully.

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