I recently came across a promotional video that illustrated how a combination bed and earthquake shelter could provide protection if a quake hit while someone is sleeping. It is basically a bed that sits atop a box that includes emergency lights and a place to store rations. It is built tough, and it is designed to encapsulate the victim until they can be rescued, and it’s supposed to withstand the forces of a building collapse.
While the design is ingenious, and it clearly is something that could serve its purpose under the right conditions, it also has a few important flaws and limitations that are worth mentioning.
Sensors in the contraption detect abnormal shaking or vibrations and immediately lower the bed into the box, the box lid comes down, and the victim is packed away safe and sound. Inside this metallic coffin is space for a few day’s worth of emergency supplies, and it has holes for ventilation, communication and to allow light inside.
One of the problems is that the lid needs to be opened up and out in the design that I saw, and this can be a huge challenge if the contraption is buried under a pile of rubble. All of that debris will need to be removed before the doors can be opened, otherwise rescuers will need to cut through the box to gain access. Both options are time-consuming and resource-intensive, and this can cause unnecessary delays during the rescue operation.
Another problem is that the unit is only useful if people are in their beds when the quake strikes. While there’s a chance that they can run to it when the shaking starts, it may get buried under rubble or become sealed off beforehand. Consequently, it offers little protection for anyone who is outside of their bedroom.
Finally, the unit is huge, and you need to sleep a few feet above the floor, which means that you have to climb up to get in the bed, risk falling out while you sleep, and climb down whenever you get up. Consequently, this design isn’t for everyone, particularly those who are not limber enough, or willing to go through this process whenever they go to bed or wake up. It’s also very heavy, and people in buildings that don’t have reinforced floors run the risk of having the unit crash through the floor and into rooms below.
Big Picture Preparedness
This is a perfect example of a good idea that really doesn’t have a lot of practical use in the real world. It’s a far-better idea to take the money that this unit costs and invest it in ways to create a broader form of earthquake protection. This also illustrates how a growing industry of shelter and bunker manufacturers are churning out products that look great on the surface but really only give people a limited amount of benefits under a specific set of circumstances.
If you’re considering investing in these types of resources, make sure that they’re being used to compliment existing plans that you’ve made instead of solely-relying on them for protection. The last thing you need is to be caught up in an earthquake and not have resources at your disposal because it happened at a time and place where you couldn’t benefit from the shelter. While these gizmos are designed to be useful in a crisis, they may end up causing more problems than they’re worth, and they may end up leaving you with fewer options at the end of the day.