It’s a pleasant Sunday afternoon. A warm breeze flows in through the open windows, mixing in with the sound of laughter coming in from the living room. You’re having quality family time, and everyone’s enjoying a funny movie.
Suddenly, the ground starts shaking. At first, it’s hardly perceptible. But then the tremor gains an unbelievable amount of momentum, and the sounds of cheer are converted into cries of terror. Cracks start appearing in the walls, travelling all the way up to the ceiling. The chandelier in the drawing room swings about dangerously, and finally shatters to the floor.
Pans clatter in the kitchen, the china cupboard topples over, and the mounted picture frames fall down. Everything’s knocked against each other, as your family huddles close together. It seems that the whole house could collapse on top of you. Your home, which was very recently a joyful haven, is now a devastated mass.
All because of the major earthquake, which happened out of the blue and left so much destruction in its wake. Could it have been averted? Not really. It’s a natural disaster, which hits unpredictably. But could the damage inflicted to the house have been lessened? Perhaps. How? With the right preventive measures, which are outlined for your convenience below.
Neutralize Outdoor Hazards
Anything standing upright has the chance of destabilizing and hitting the ground during an earthquake. That’s why in movies like San Andreas, high-rise skyscrapers, power lines, and communication towers are shown tilting over and crashing on the ground, crushing everything and everyone in their vicinity.
That’s why it’s vital that you steer clear of these outdoor hazards. If there are electrical poles near your house, make sure that your foundation is sufficiently concretized and your house is insulated with plywood sheathing. Otherwise during a quake, the wires might come free and electrocute stuff. Once the exterior of your house is secure, move towards the interior.
Get a Hold of Smart Alarms
We’re currently in an uber-technological age, full of wondrous creations and innovations. Look around you. See to what extent your home’s been digitized. When it comes to home protection, there are advanced smart systems like Vivint home security which provide safety through automation. You can monitor and control everything right from your smartphone.
And what if I told you that there’s a smart device which can sense a tremor from afar, which would then sound the alarm, giving you those precious few moments to prepare yourself for an earthquake? Would you believe me? You’d have to, because there are indeed such sensors in existence, like the JDS c-88quake Earthquake Alarm, which is as efficient as it sounds.
Strengthen Structural Deficiencies
If any one part of a human body gets affected, the whole body feels its aftermath. Think of a common cold, with snot coming out of your nose. Instead of a single region remaining weak, your entire metabolism deteriorates to the point you can’t get out of bed, no matter how hard you try.
Similarly, if there’s even a single weak spot in your house’s overall structure, the whole place becomes drastically vulnerable to quakes. What should you do in this case?
First of all, make a detailed observation and assessment of your home, from every cranny to every nook. See if there are any deficiencies in any part, and then tackle them respectively.
Start from the base of your house. This is the flat plane on top of which the whole structure stands. The points, where the horizontal foundation meets the vertical walls, are usually conjoined with sill plates. These are the crucial connective areas which you should focus on when it comes to reinforcing your home in case of a quake. What you need to do is strengthen these sill plates with steel bolts that go deep into the ground. Properly affixed, they will ensure that your house stands firmly in place.
The vertical structures which stand erected on the ground and provide enclosure are your house’s walls. If they’re made from base material, they’ll crumble from a quake. It’s highly advisable to strengthen the walls from the core by adding plywood panels, or better yet steel frames in them, and then securing the whole structure with bolts.
Like old homes of the past, some modern houses have chimneys installed in them. They’re added to give the whole place a rustic look, and to provide warmth in the winter by serving as a fireplace. If you have such a feature in your home, be sure to fortify it firmly to the walls and the foundation with steel collar braces, so that it doesn’t break down during an earthquake.
It’s recommended that the sharp, rectangular window frames should be replaced with frames with smooth, rounded corners. Why? Because the impact an earthquake has on sharply-angled frames is more damaging than on rounded ones. If you want to avoid cracks and fissures in the window area, round the frames and strengthen the connective points.
Like a hat, the ceiling of your house covers the walls from up above. During a quake, cracks may appear on its face, and if the vibrations are extreme enough, it might give way and dislodge completely. What should you do to reinforce it? Line the ceiling up with plywood sheathing so that it remains stiff. Brace it as best as you can.
Secure Indoor Fixtures and Fittings
What makes a house a home? Personalized fixtures and fittings, right? Unfortunately, during a major quake there’s a huge chance that these items will shift from their place and plummet to the ground. Not only could these falling objects hurt someone, they could also damage the property. As such, you need to take care of them beforehand.
- Heavy-duty Items:
Things like your customized oak bookshelf, china cupboard, or computer table could topple over in an earthquake. You need to fix them up right, and fasten them with proper bracers. Don’t let them stand freely. Instead, prop them up against a wall, and then bolt them to it.
Things made of glass need to be placed away in locked cabinets with tightly-shut doors. Picture frames, paintings, and mirrors hanging on the walls need to be properly bolted, instead of lightly screwed. Overhead light fixtures should be securely anchored if they’re to be prevented from falling down during a quake.
All your basic appliances, like the washing machine, kitchen oven, and radiator, need to be highly protected during an earthquake. Not only can they get damaged, they can inflict significant damage as well. For example, your water-heater can fall over and break the gas line, which could definitely worsen the situation for you. Bolt these appliances down firmly.
Safeguard Basic Utilities
There are three vital things you simply can’t live without these days. Can you guess them?
Water, gas, and electricity.
These are the basic home utilities that make modern living possible. Let me tell you an interesting fact about them: if they can make your life, they can break it too. How? As a result of an earthquake, they can wreak havoc. A ruptured water connection can flood your house. Unrestrained gas can catch combustion and blast your home away. Electrical wires gone rogue can electrocute you.
You need to make sure that these utility connections stay in their place, all fastened, even during a major quake. Flexible pipe fittings of good quality, which are less susceptible to damage, can be taken advantage of in this case. Make the utility control plugs easily accessible so you can shut them down right as a quake hits. This will help to prevent all sorts of terrible outcomes.
Set a Go-To Emergency Scheme
When an earthquake starts, there’s panic all around. It’s a totally natural reaction, when you consider the adrenaline pumping through your veins, coupled with a powerful self-preservation instinct. In this scenario, it’s highly important to keep your wits about you; to know exactly what to do, instead of going all hysterical.
That’s why you need to appoint a safe zone in your home, where you can drop and take cover with your family. Beyond that, assembling an emergency kit, containing sufficient rations and medicine to last 72 hours, would help a lot too. If the quake is of a cosmic scale, creating an evacuation route from your house to the outdoors is a smart move as well. Coming up with such a plan, educating your family members about it, and doing drills can induce that rational thinking when the devastating moment comes.
Backup with an Insurance Plan
Other than having a plan A, it’s always wise to have a plan B too. If one fails, you can smoothly transition to the other. What could be your backup plan in case of a major quake? Getting all your stuff and your home insured, that’s what! Why? Because if, destruction creeps to your things despite your best preventative efforts, you’d have the backing to compensate for the loss. Make a catalogue of your stuff, and try to regularly update it. Keep an eye on insurance policies and any changes that might occur in them. When the time come, you can build anew through your insurance.
With these home-reinforcement measures in place, next time you’d be better disposed to dealing with a major quake. If it comes, you’ll be ready for it!