How to Ensure Your Property is Earthquake Proof?

Elena xE in Empresa Mariveles

A home is a shelter that is seen as a safe haven by almost everybody. It is the place where you are most comfortable with, a place where you can rest, bond with your family and friends, and keep your most valuable possessions. Your house and lot property might be your proudest investment and something that is very important to you. In other words, your house is your safe place. There is a feeling of being secured inside of your own home but you can’t deny that there are things or unexpected events that could happen that might endanger you and your family even while inside your property. Unavoidable natural disasters such as heavy rains and tropical typhoons are the most common events that might damage your property but there are also disasters that are avoidable like house fires. These events could be prepared for easily since there are common things to do to prepare yourself from such disasters. But when it comes to the most damaging ones such as an earthquake, there are a lot of preparation that must be done in order to avoid a lot of damage. in the recent years, earthquakes have been happening more frequently and people are worrying since it is one of the most dangerous natural disasters. Due to this fact, a lot of people are looking up solutions and suggestions to earthquake proof their house and lot property, and you should as well.  Finding a good earthquake proof house design is not hard to do and this article will help you spot them when you are site visiting or implement them in your own home.

What is an earthquake?

An earthquake is described as an intense movement of the Earth’s surface. The origin of these shaking of the Earth is the movement of the outermost layer of the Earth. There are other events that precede the earthquakes such as volcanic eruptions and some human-made movements. The place where an earthquake is called an epicenter and travels originating from it. When the stresses that an earthquake releases gets too intense, they create large marks and cracks on the Earth’s outermost surface called faults. Continuous land movement produces lines that stretches from one place to another, these lines trace a geological fault and are most commonly known as fault lines.

Earthquake in the Philippines

According to the National Geographic, the Pacific Ring of Fire, also known as the Circum-Pacific Belt, is a geographic path that travels along the Pacific Ocean. This path is dotted and are in abundance of active volcanoes and are hotspots for most of the earthquake activities in the entire world. The path extends approximately 40,000 kilometers or 24,900 miles. The Pacific Ring of Fire runs through the perimeters of several tectonic plates such as the Pacific, Indian-Australian, North American, Juan de Fuca, Nazca, and Philippines Plates. This impressive and dangerous path is the home of seventy-five percent of the Earth’s volcanoes and that is more than four hundred and fifty volcanoes. The reason why this area is an active spot for volcanic activity and earthquakes, is because the Pacific Ring of Fire is a region of frequent tectonic plates movement which triggers volcanic eruptions and seismic activity.

The Philippines is one of the countries that are located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, this means that the country is not a stranger to frequent volcanic activity and land movements. Earthquakes had been occurring in the Philippines since the ancient times but seismic activity are starting to become more and more frequent recently. Due to the Philippines being situated at the Pacific Ring of Fire, the country has several fault lines scattered all throughout the archipelago. Earthquakes that have small magnitudes regularly occur in the country because of the frequent meetings of the major tectonic plates that are located in the area where the Philippine stands.

Earthquakes had been a frequent natural activity that is not new to the Philippines. In fact, there are a total of five major and active fault lines in the Philippines. These fault lines can be found all throughout the Philippines but most of them are located in Luzon. The Marikina Valley Fault System runs through Montalban, San Mateo, Marikina, Pasig, Taguig, Muntinlupa, San Pedro, Bi­­nan, Carmona, Santa Rosa, Calamba, Tagaytay, and Oriental Mindoro with an overwhelming length of 146 kilometers, the Marikina Valley Fault System consists of two segments which are the West Valley Fault which is the longer segment with a length of 130 kilometers, and the East Valley Fault, which is the shorter segment with a length of 17 kilometers. One of the other active fault lines in the Philippines is the Western Philippine Fault that runs through the Luzon Sea, Mindoro Strait, Panay Gulf, and Sulu Sea. The Eastern Philippine Fault traverses the Philippine Sea. The Southern Mindanao Fault is located at the Moro Gulf to the Celebes Sea. The Central Philippine Fault that runs across the entire map of the Philippines from Ilocos Norte to Davao del Norte. Out of the five major and active fault lines in the Philippines, the Marikina Valley Fault is the most dangerous and poses the greatest threat of destruction and high number of casualties because unlike the other fault lines that runs through water, the Marikina Valley Fault runs through areas of modern development and cities with a large percent of the Philippine population. To add up to the fear, the organization that monitors the fault lines in the Philippines, the PhiVolcs, announced that the Marikina Valley Fault is already 11 years late of its estimated major movement and can move anytime now.

Earthquakes in the Philippines can be very destructive and can cause a large number of casualties and destruction of properties. In fact, the country had witnessed a number of very destructive and notable earthquakes. Even recently, as of writing, an earthquake struck the province of Abra that is located in the Cordillera Administrative Region with a magnitude of 7.0 last July 27, 2022. The earthquake in Philippine history that holds the record for the most casualties was probably the one that happened at the Moro Gulf back in the August of 1976. The Moro Gulf earthquake was recorded to have an 8.0 magnitude and the total number of casualties was 4,791, there were also 2,288 people that was reported missing and an estimated 9,928 number of people were injured. The most popular earthquake in recent history must be the one that happened in Luzon back in 1990 wherein the Philippines was struck by a destructive 7.7 magnitude earthquake. The 1990 Luzon earthquake produced a 125-kilometer-long ground rupture that stretched from Aurora to Nueva Vizcaya. There was a total of 1,621 casualties with 3,513 injured and 321 people were reported missing. The estimated total damage of the 1990 Luzon earthquake was ten billion pesos.

Earthquake Proofing your House

In designing an earthquake responsive property, one must know what types of precautionary measures must be done in order to achieve that goal. Earthquakes had been occurring since the ancient times and people have been inventing new technologies and innovation in construction. As time passes by these technologies are improved, implemented in newer constructions, are more available compared to the past decades wherein the damages are much more severe because of the absence of these knowledge.

You might have noticed how the grounds shake when an earthquake occurs; your pendant lighting fixture swing abnormally and your walls started to show concerning cracks. With this observation, you can’t help but to wonder: what if, hopefully not, the next earthquake would be much more intense? A lot of property owners overlook and ignore earthquake safety precautions in construction and it is a huge mistake to do so. Making your property built with a good earthquake proof design doesn’t only protect the structure itself but also the lives of the people living inside it. Here are some ways that you can do to make your house and property earthquake responsive.

  1. Study the location of your property

The most important first step that you need to do in having an earthquake proof house design is by checking the exact location of your property. This is important because it shows you how close or how far is your property to the nearest fault lines or hazardous areas such as ravines, cliffs, and bodies of water. Some people fail to perform this step and only realizing that their property is standing right on top of a fault line when the time is too late. Having a proper site analysis that is consulted to a licensed architect is one way of securing that the area where your property stands is safe and would have minimal damage in times of natural disasters. Assessing your land vicinity also will give you an idea where to evacuate when the time comes. The things you should look for are as follows:

  • Nearest fault lines
  • Nearest evacuation centers or resource centers
  • Nearest bodies of water such as creeks or rivers
  • Cliffs, ravines, and land formations that can possibly erode during an earthquake
  • Emergency institutions’ proximity and distance from your property such as hospitals and fire stations

Take note that earthquakes do not only cause land movements and for structures and vegetation to fall over. Earthquakes can also precede other destructive events such as tsunamis and house fires so taking precautionary measures for that kind of disasters is a must too.

Read Also: What to do after an Earthquake?

  • Study your existing property

If you bought an already existing and erected property, it doesn’t mean that it’s too late to make it earthquake proof. The first thing that you should do is to assess the existing structure. Such as the strength and depth of its foundations, the reinforcement design on columns and slabs, and even the soil where it stands. Looking for and studying this thing about your property will already give you an idea on how to strengthen your home. This can also be something that you can do when trying to shop for ready-for-occupancy type of properties. Although some of these things can be observed by yourselves, this data can also be found in the seller’s disclosure forms or the results of home inspection.

  • Hire licensed professionals

It is no doubt better to put the management of your property construction to actual experts. These experts and professionals have studied laws and solutions that can be implemented in to your home so that it would withstand intense earthquakes. Licensed professionals such as architects and engineers will help you construct a surely sturdy structure and best believe that you won’t have to worry too much. In choosing a plot of land, you need to seek assistance from a geodetic engineer, who will survey your lot, and assess its vulnerability to natural disasters. They will help you by giving you the right options for your construction based on the requirements of your site.

  • Find your house’s weak points

If you’re living on an existing structure but still wishes to earthquake proof it, then the first thing that you need to do is look for your property’s weak points. Your house’s weal points are the areas or fixtures that are prone to get damaged or broken easily in times of an earthquake. Some common weak points are: windows, walls, columns, ceiling, and stairs. These areas tend to be the most vulnerable to break when the ground is shaking violently. If you think that an area in your home is a weak point then you can perform necessary upgrades or reinforcement to make them stronger to withstand intense ground shaking. By doing so, you are also strengthening your entire home as they also tend to be the structural support of the structure.

These are just some of the ways that you can earthquake proof your house so that you decrease the chances of your property breaking down and getting more damage during an earthquake. It is better to take note of these steps to make sure that you, your family, and your property is protected. Earthquakes, just like any other natural disasters doesn’t give a heads-up days before it occurs so we must always be vigilant and ready.

Earthquakes are a common event in the Philippines as the country is located along the Pacific Ring of Fire. If you are looking for a house and lot property that us affordable and is surely safe and secure in times of an earthquake then consider checking Bria Homes. Bria Homes offer affordable house and lot and condominiums properties that are designed with considerations for natural disasters such as earthquakes. These properties are strategically placed far from major fault lines and are designed with open spaces. The Bria Homes website features options for you to browse by location and type of property so you won’t have a hard time choosing the right one for you and your family.

Written by R.M