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Earthquake-proof your Home

"Tips on keeping your home safe from earthquakes"
By: Arch. Rich Lasam, uapEarthquake-proof your Home

Before buying a house, do your research! Find out if there are adjacent fault lines to the house. The nearer you are to a fault line, the higher the chance of an earthquake.

Having good bedrock in the lot can reduce the cost of construction and also give your home better protection from damage to earthquakes as the house is sturdier if its foundations are resting directly on solid bedrock instead of a clay or sandy foundation.

The Philippines is in the Pacific Ring of Fire, an active earthquake zone. The only area in our country with almost no possibility of earthquakes is Palawan. In this light, remember that all buildings in our country is required by law to be able to withstand an earthquake with up to a magnitude of seven on the Richter scale, so ask your architect and engineer to consider this requirement when designing your home. The reason for this requirement is that buildings that can withstand magnitude-8 or -9 quakes are prohibitively expensive to construct. Another reason is that earthquakes with an intensity higher than seven rarely occur.

But if you already have an existing house, you can fortify it by following these tips:

· Check for cracks in the house’s columns, beams, and walls around doors and windows (as these also have smaller columns and beams) that are in a diagonal (usually 45 degrees) slant or parallel to the floor which are indicative of structural deficiencies. In this case, it means that something in the house is heavy enough to bend the “bones” of your home, making them more vulnerable when an actual earthquake occurs. If you see any of these types of cracks on your doors, windows, columns, and beams, contact an architect and structural engineer to check if there are any problems.

· Locate the strong points of your house as shelter during an earthquake event, which are usually the areas with the most structural support in terms of materials and construction. Some examples are the staircase and the toilets as they are done in full concrete and steel construction.

Heavy furniture (shelves, cabinets, etc.) should be secured and bolted if possible so as to prevent these items from falling on the occupants of the house. 
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