You might reside in a posh multi storied building or in an old palatial structure or a humble chawl, but in front of natural calamities, like an earthquake, everything might seem but an ant house. No, this doesn’t mean that you’ll have to wait for the next big earthquake to happen in order to check the durability of your house. You can make your house is absolutely earthquake proof by applying the following safety measures:
No matter if you stay in an earthquake zone or not, you must ensure that the structure of your house is able to withstand strongly both the horizontal and the vertical movements during an earthquake. The concept, referred to by the engineers as a continuous load path, is to let the forces of the earthquake pass through the frame and structure of the house without damaging the building per se. In order to ensure this, just any mechanical aid won’t suffice; you need to hire a specialized engineer, who’s going to ensure your house’s durability and point out the structural deficits, if any. And yes, no matter what, you need to be present physically while the engineer is on his visit.
Short wood studded walls that binds up the crawl space under the first floor of your house are known as cripple walls. In fact, these are the pillars that carry the weight of the whole house, and hence, functions as shock absorbers during the time of earthquakes. See to it that these are properly made and installed while building the house, and are enclosed well with plywood so that it doesn’t show any kind of to-and-fro movement in case of an earthquake. And, in case you see any discrepancies, call in your engineer at one without delay!
Anchoring is one of the most pivotal features of the house. So, after your house is build, you must make an effort to see through the crawl space and check if the foundational slab of the house is anchored safely and strongly to the walls of the house. See to it that all the anchor bolts fasten the sill plates tightly to the foundational slabs—and this must be done roundabout the house, every 4-6 feet along the sill plate! While you inspect this, it is advisable to call in a specialized engineer for the same who will be able to tell you all the nitty-gritty and help you out with the same.
Weather conditions, soil and water can severely damage even the strongest of the houses. Soils, for example, with high clay content can contract and expand enormously during rainfalls; as a result of which the foundational structure, too, can move up and down during earthquake, thereby damaging the overall structure of the house. This makes it very important for you to check and keep the moisture content of the foundational structure of the house constant. You can begin with keeping the adjoining gutters clean and see to it that rain water passes on to the drain efficiently without seeping in through the ground and harming the house.
The position of the furniture and other decorations are quite important in this case. Always ensure you don’t have any heavy material decoration (like a vintage photo frame) hanging above your bed. Make sure all your fixtures are made of light material and affix your bookcases, LED/LCD television sets and other electronics properly to the walls.
Also, it is very important to affix a specialized bracing kit for water heaters which would prevent the running of water through the walls. However, ensure that this heavy metal scrapping is fixed perfectly to the wall.