Some structures are designed and built to stand up to earthquakes; many are not. In addition to this, some building sites and areas are at greater risk than others. Developers and builders should therefore take the necessary precautions to ensure that both the design of the proposed building and the land upon which it is to be constructed can suitably survive an earthquake.
Learn whether the area in which you intend to build is susceptible to rockslides or slippage.
Talk to "old timers". Consult Zonal Maps available through the public service. And employ best practice building and design standards.
The more you know, the better prepared you are. Knowing ... that's where reducing vulnerability starts.
When Designing or Constructing a Structure, be sure that you:
- In site selection:
- Consult a qualified engineer, architect or other authority to find out how safe your location is.
- Build on stable soil in an area not prone to natural hazards.
- Construct only in approved construction zones.
- Get planning approval in principle/outline approval from the necessary governing authority.
- As coastal areas are vulnerable to tsunamis, set back to higher ground wherever possible.
- If terraces are to be cut into deep slopes, be aware that the surrounding area may become more vulnerable to landslides during an earthquake. Builders should therefore set back at least 6 m from the back/crest of terrace, and 6m from the back of the slope.
- As trees may be uprooted during an earthquake, buildings should be constructed away from large, mature trees (the greater of 6 m or a distance equal to the tree height).
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- In Design and Construction:
- Build in accordance with the recommended building codes. See your local planning authority or disaster management office for details. SEE CDEMA DIRECTORY
- Use construction techniques that are seismic resistant. SEE CDERA Code of Practice for the Construction of Houses: An Instruction Manual for Foremen and Experienced Artisans
- Ensure that "seismic-proofing" takes into account the need to secure critical equipment to both prevent casualties and ensure their post event availability.
- When constructing, use the correct quality materials.
- Store construction materials properly to maintain their integrity before they become a part of the permanent work.
- Connect building elements (footings, floor, wall, roof, etc) properly.
- Brace building elements properly.
- Construct the columns to be stronger than the beams.
- Select favourable building envelope geometry.
- Assess what could fall (mirrors, light fixtures, shelves, TV etc.). Brace or fasten them, especially those over beds or desks.
- Bolt tall and heavy furniture, water tanks, water heaters, gas cylinders and storage units to a wall or floor.
Checklists for Builders & Developers
- Refer to Appendix A-V, Detailed Engineering Check List for designing to Counteract Natural Hazards (Earthquakes, Hurricanes and Torrential Rains) contained in Design Manual for Health Services Facilities in the Caribbean with Particular Reference to Natural Hazards and Other Low-Frequency Events, by Tony Gibbs for PAHO.
- Refer to Appendix A-VIII, Earthquakes; Check List for Non-Structural Components for Earthquakes contained in Design Manual for Health Services Facilities in the Caribbean with Particular Reference to Natural Hazards and Other Low-Frequency Events, by Tony Gibbs for PAHO.
- Refer to New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, Assessment and Improvement of the Structural Performance of Buildings in Earthquakes, Prioritisation. Initial Evaluation, Detailed Assessment, Improvement Measures, Recommendations of a NZSEE Study Group on Earthquake Risk Buildings, June 2006 (including Corregendum No. 1), located online at http://www.nzsee.org.nz/PUBS/2006AISBEGUIDELINES_Corr_06a.pdf.
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