There’s nothing scarier than being in your home when a natural disaster hits. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, you’ve probably already experienced some of those frightening tremors yourself. A serious quake can be downright terrifying, and, if you’re not careful, a disaster for your property.
Luckily, thanks to modern tools and technology, we now have more tools and resources at our disposal to help improve our home’s earthquake resistance. If you’re in a quake-prone area, you need this guide. Let’s talk about how to improve your home’s earthquake resistance so you can have some much-needed peace of mind. With an estimated 500,000 detectable earthquakes happening around the world each year, you can never be too careful.
What Causes Earthquake Damage?
What exactly causes your home to move and shake so much during an earthquake? While you probably already know how the tremors shake the ground from movement in one of the Earth’s fault lines, what exactly happens to your home?
The most damaging motion, believe it or not, is not the vertical component of the Earth moving up and down. In fact, it’s the horizontal movement. Your home wants to stay in a single place as the Earth shifts from side to side, and this creates a lot of sideways forces on the walls, pointing them in a diamond shape. This is known as “shear forces,” and it can lead to your walls crumbling down.
Now, let’s identify clear ways to make your home more “earthquake proof.” It’s important to note that no building will ever be 100% safe from natural disasters, but you can take preventative steps both when building your home and styling it.
Improve the Flexibility
The more mass a structure has, the higher the shear loads will be in the case of an earthquake. If a structure has “flex” and “give,” it’s much more likely to absorb the seismic energy. This is what’s been used with much success in places like Japan where there’s a high chance of experiencing an earthquake.
One of the materials with the greatest flexibility is fiberglass. These fiberglass composites have a high strength-to-weight ratio and flexibility, making them very strong in the case of an earthquake.
Reinforcing Existing Walls
If your home is built with materials that are known to handle poorly when there are ground tremors, you still have options. What materials are notoriously bad with earthquakes? Older masonry, concrete, and earth materials are very poor choices.
That being said, these materials can be improved with reinforcing steel, bond beams, and roof diaphragms. This is definitely an investment needed to improve the longevity of these materials. Always avoid unreinforced masonry walls which are prone to collapsing.
Check the Foundation Moisture
Your foundation moisture affects the land around the base of your house. This base is especially affected by things like moisture and water, so you should try to keep these conditions constantly.
Always keep your gutters and the area around your home clean. Don’t let any rainwater pool on the ground. It could be worth having your home inspected to look for any moisture problems.
Use Flexible Utilities
While it’s not possible to make sure everything in your home is flexible in the case of an earthquake, you can still take measures. There are such things as flexible pipe fixtures that can be used to avoid gas or water leaks. These will be a lifesaver if your utilities are damaged during a disaster.
Move Furniture and Decorations Away From Beds
Hanging pictures over your bed might be fine if you’re in a place that isn’t prone to earthquakes. However, these can quickly become a danger if they fall down on you during any ground shaking.
Things like bookshelves, large furniture, and electronics, as well as decorations, can become a danger once an earthquake strikes. Not only should you properly secure these things to your walls, but you should also keep them away from places you’re likely to be resting, like chairs and beds.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Protecting your home from an earthquake doesn’t have to involve any big overhauls. It’s easiest to look for properties that already have sound, flexible construction in place to cut down on these problems. However, even if you live in an older home, you have options.
It’s all about being safe rather than sorry when it comes to the best ways to improve your home’s earthquake resistance. Your build and property can have a big impact on your resistance, so it’s important to take these tips seriously.