SYS Blog

Collectible Protection In Case Of An Earthquake

Posted · 15 Comments

By Eleanor Nelson, Guest Blogger

From the Editor: This preservation enthusiast from England, with ties in California, has asked to reach out to you and share 7 important tips for protecting cherished family possessions in case of a natural disaster. And there are some quick, fun videos links for you. This information is just as applicable for someone in Hurricane Country or who lives in areas of severe winter storms. If you know someone who lives in that type of climate or country, do them a favor and pass this great article along to them.

There is no “earthquake season,” as there are seasons for wildfires, tornadoes or blizzards. In California, we know the ground may start shaking under our feet at any time, so it pays to be prepared all the time.

That is why, on Thursday, October 18 we at the FACL will be participating in The Great ShakeOut earthquake drill, along with over 17 million people worldwide (12.9 million in America alone). Wherever they are, whatever they are doing, everyone will “drop, cover and hold on” for 60 seconds, as if a real earthquake were occurring.

Events like this are a useful reminder that while disasters are not preventable, much of the damage to our personal property is definitely preventable. With that in mind, here are 7 tips on ways to increase the chances that your collectibles, family history valuables and keepsakes will come through an earthquake unharmed.

1. Check the strength of the hanging hooks and wires on wall-mounted artwork. They should be well-anchored and over-sized. “Over-engineer” the hanging materials. Paintings can rip all too easily if they fall onto something; even the corners of furniture can cause serious damage.

2. Secure items on shelves or in cabinets with Museum Wax, available at (watch the short video!) Even a quake of relatively low magnitude will shift and topple standing objects.

Museum Wax

Museum Wax anchors collectibles in a shaking building

3. Keep your most important photographs together, in albums or containers that will allow for swift, easy removal in an emergency. Its called a “grab n’ go’ box.” Overwhelmed with so lots of stuff in boxes?! Here’s a quick video on how to get through it quickly… and in a fun way: (leave a comment and THUMBS UP?)

4. Store items of significance away from water pipes and water heaters. Damage to your home’s plumbing system could turn an earthquake into a flood! Water not only causes serious immediate damage, it also leads to mold, resulting in further destruction. FEMA says all it takes in 2” of water to do massive damage.

5. Make copies of important documents, and take photographs of your precious possessions. Keep these in a safe location, offsite–preferably in a different state entirely! You will need these photos (and values) if you want to make an insurance claim. Questions about appraisals and claims, go to and call Richard Holgate, International Society of Appraisers 805 895 5121 for a free chat.

6. It is possible you will need supplemental earthquake insurance. Check that the contents of your house are covered by your homeowner’s policy. The policy should cover heirlooms under “Contents” and not require a further Fine Arts rider.

7. Finally, buy a copy of ‘How to Save Your Stuff From A Disaster’ at

Great suggestions, Eleanor. You can “take those tips to the bank.”

If you have art conservation/restoration questions call Scott Haskins at 805 564 3438.

Follow us on Facebook at Scott M. Haskins and at Save Your Stuff

Keywords: collectibles, family history, fine art insurance, art appraisal, art conservation, Museum Wax, ShakeOut, keepsakes, drop cover and hold, Scott Haskins, Eleanor Nelson

15 Responses to "Collectible Protection In Case Of An Earthquake"
  1. Nancy says:

    Excellent article about preserving collectibles and preparing for an earthquake. I guess disasters happen and if you are living near or on a fault, earthquakes are inevitable. Thank you!

  2. Tammy says:

    Very important points that are brought out here. We all need to be aware of the possibility of a disaster happening and how to prepare for it properly. Thanks for the heads up and making me think about my things.

  3. Steve says:

    It is always a bad idea to store items next to water pipes and heaters regardless. Not just for reasons involving the risk of an earthquake. But these are excellent tips and reminders and it reminds me to check out my parent’s home for their stuff too.

  4. Sara says:

    That was an excellent video! A very distressing topic and thank you for putting a step by step descriptive article about how to prepare for emergencies and to preserve collectibles.

  5. Shawna says:

    My cousin lives out in BC and they just had an earthquake near the area. No damage happened but it could in the future. She must read this.

  6. Amber says:

    With so many natural disasters happening more and more, this is very valuable information.

  7. Teresa says:

    Great article and useful too with all of this climate change, we need to prepare for anything to happen.

  8. Jackie says:

    Earthquakes seem to be happening a lot more often and people need to be made aware of what to do in the event of one. They are even happening in no-fault zones! Scary.

  9. Jan says:

    Great article for all of us to read because earthquakes are now happening in places like Toronto where earthquakes at one time were unheard of!

  10. sharon says:

    Thanks for writing this up. There is not enough education about what people must do to prepare for a disaster.

  11. A Grey says:

    Earthquakes are happening a lot more often. People need to know what to do to prepare for one. Well written article.

  12. Erin says:

    I am terrified of being struck by a natural disaster. But this is reality and thanks for taking the time to share this awareness with others.

  13. Bram says:

    We better get used to it, earthquakes and other natural disasters are very common.

  14. Shannon says:

    People need to wake up and smell the coffee, earthquakes and other natural disasters are a reality in this day and age.

  15. Ugo Madall says:

    Hi. I wanted to thank you for the fantastic information. My wife and I collect figurines and we are always worried about breakage. Your info is useful.

Comments are closed.