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  • Can your Home Withstand an Earthquake? 5 Questions to Ask

    Check your home for structural integrity today
    by Rachel Perez .
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    Prepare your home
    As soon as you've identified the unsafe areas in your home, lessen the damage an earthquake could do to your house and, most importantly, to your family by doing the following:
     
    Replace or repair broken mirrors, light bulbs, floor and wall tiles, cabinets, shelves, loose bathroom and kitchen fixtures, and ceiling boards. Avoid using furniture and fixtures that easily break or shatter.

    Rearrange your interiors. Secure tall cabinets and shelves onto the walls to keep them stationary. Store heavy objects on lower shelves. Non-slip mats for ornaments and small objects are effective in keeping them from falling off. Organize your wires, too, to avoid tripping on them.

    Reinforce roofs, walls, and windows. A glass film can be installed on glass windows and walls to hold broken glass fragments together in case there’s an earthquake. Make sure you secure your doors, but they should also be easy to open if and when you need to evacuate.

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    Retrofit cracked columns and divided floorings. You will need a structural engineer to check how your house can be retrofitted to make it sturdier. Weigh your options; it might be best to just move to a new house or building if it is an available option.

    Prepare your family
    In the event of an earthquake, the first safety procedure should be to get out of the house or building, says Velasco, so it’s best to have a quick-exit route and an open area where you can evacuate.
        
    If you cannot evacuate in time, then look for a sturdy table capable of protecting you from heavy things that can fall on you. Stay clear from furniture and things that can easily shatter or break. “Avoid the electrically-lighted part of the house when earthquake strikes during nighttime. There is a high chance that ground movement may interfere with the ground wires and the electrical components of a building,” she adds.    
        
    You can also stay in spaces protected by a low but massive pieces of furniture—this is called an "object-safe zone" or the "triangle." Velasco explains: “The triangle can be easily identified by analyzing the furniture in the area. A triangle has three corners. Imagine that the first corner as a cabinet (Corner 1), the second as a mirror, (Corner 2) the third as a bed (Corner 3). You know for sure that the cabinet might fall and the mirror might break. But the chance of the bed breaking is minimal, depending on the sturdiness of the material used. The bed can possibly protect you from shattered furniture or from Corners 1 and 2. Just make sure you are lying down flat beside the edge of the bed farthest from the objects that might break.” Remember to evacuate the building as soon as the shaking has stabilized, in case there are aftershocks.

    According to the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP), an integrated and accredited professional organization of architects, the question is not whether a disaster will hit the country, but rather, are we prepared?

    UAP Convention Exhibition (ConEx) Director Architect Topy Vasquez adds that adaptability to climate change, resiliency in construction and retrofitting should be done by homeowners as much as possible, as he sees the urgent need for disaster-resilient homes in Metro Manila.

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    On April 10-12, 2014, the UAP will showcase ‘resilient housing’ in its annual Convention Exhibition 2014 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, which aims to “provide concrete programs for the government to consider as it strengthens its disaster-resiliency efforts. With a significant portion of the population living in makeshift structures, the need for disaster-resilient homes is urgent,” according to the media brief.

    Planning to build your home? Get expert advice! For more information about the exhibition, visit www.uap-architects.org.

    Next story: The Importance of Breastfeeding During Emergencies

    Image from telegraph.co.uk

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