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To identify and reduce nonstructural hazards at the school site.

Nonstructural hazards are caused by the furnishings and nonstructural elements of a building. Anything that does not actually hold the building up is nonstructural, including floors, ceilings, windows, and all furnishings. In Arkansas public schools nonstructural hazards represent one of the major threats to the safety of students and staff. Eliminating these hazards can reduce injuries significantly.

"Based on what I saw on my visits to schools in the (epicentral) area, there would have been numerous injuries from nonstructural hazards if the Loma Prieta earthquake had occurred during school hours."

Dennis Bellet
Code/Research Structural Engineer
Office of the State Architect


"We had done some preparation. We had attached all cabinets and shelves to the wall, with angle brackets into studs so most of them withstood the quake (October 17th, 1989) quite well ... it was only the rooms where they had not been attached or they were in the center where they fell over. Any cabinets or shelves taller than about three feet fell over. "

Kenneth Simpkins, Superintendent
Loma Prieta Joint Elementary School District
Los Gatos, CA


  1. Using the Common Earthquake Hazards checklist, have individual staff identify existing nonstructural hazards in each area/room of the school.
  2. For each identified hazard, note action needed to reduce or eliminate the hazard, assign responsibility, and note and/or research the cost involved, if any. Use the suggested procedures to reduce the hazards as a guide. Refer to FEMA 74 "Reducing the Risks of Nonstructural Earthquake Damage: A Practical Guide" for definitive guidance.
  3. For the hazards identified, set priorities for reduction. Develop a time frame for completion of each item.
  4. Develop a system for periodic review of potential nonstructural hazards and keep the hazard reduction program current.

"We saw the following types of furnishings cause the majority of problems (in the Loma Prieta earthquake): pendant mounted light fixtures; four-drawer file cabinets; bookcases and library shelving."

Dennis Bellet
Code/Research Structural Engineer
Office of the State Architect

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School Earthquake Preparedness Guide - State of Arkansas
Arkansas Office of Emergency Services, 1993