What to check on your home after an earthquake

Wednesday, May 17th 2017. | Geografi

Home earthquake kit – There is little information on what to do or how to identify structural damage to houses, apartments and real estate in general, after an earthquake of high intensity.

Therefore, as a precaution, then we tell you what are the main points you should check on your home or apartment after an earthquake and safety measures that should apply.

The first thing done is to check the walls, beams or columns to identify any cracks or cracks that were not before the earthquake, is important to rule if cracks are not superficial, that is, the coating of paint or plaster.

If you detect any structural damage, you need to call an engineer or architect to review and determine whether the intervention of a specialist in the field is necessary.

Structural damage refers to the damages suffered by the “skeleton” of the building and if government personnel determine that the building has structural damage, will assess habitability and what kind of work should be performed to repair

Recognizing structural damage

Earthquakes undergo buildings at different forces for which may or may not prepared. This way they can generate structural and nonstructural damage, dangerous for the occupants. The former can cause partial or total collapse, and second, by falling material.

Usually after an earthquake aftershocks occur. Although of lesser magnitude, they act on structures or materials that have been damaged or are unstable, so it is important to review the building.

external review

The first is to review the sinking and tilting of the property, which must not be sunk, it indicates that the soil is not strong. In the same way there should be large cracks in the ground.

Nor should it be inclined. To review the inclination gluing to a cord at the top of the wall object is attached, and the line falls. On a wall 2.3 meters high inclination should not be greater than 5 mm. If the slope is greater, must leave the property until it is revised, especially if more than one floor.

internal review

If the slope is not a problem, it proceeds to check inside the building. It is important to know that there are elements designed to support the weight of the structures and others that serve only to insulations or aesthetic separations.

The important structural elements are the walls, slabs, columns and reinforced concrete beams that most houses have. These elements must not be altered. If they are, they are become unsafe housing in varying degrees.

Non-structural elements are the partitions can be of different materials. If you do not have reinforced concrete elements, we must differentiate between houses masonry, adobe, wood or other.

Concrete properties

Partitions ring hollow wall hitting the knuckles, the walls are solid, “fillers” noticeable hit. Cracks in walls do not matter. They do not hold anything and no serious problems for the stability of the structure. Nor matter vertical or horizontal cracks in a wall where it is divided into solid and partition wall, this is due to the difference in flexibility of the materials.

To verify this, hit with a hammer or knuckles on each side of the crack to 2 centimeters. On one side it should sound hollow and the other not. Still, if the cracks are steep, you should not live with them. Aftershocks can bring down the material. The same caution should be taken with other facade elements that are seen in danger of collapse, such as windows, chimneys, suspended ceilings or balconies.

Cracks are important when in structural elements or walls. How is a recognized structural wall should seek ?: structural plan of the property, of which there is normally a copy in the Public Registry of Property. If there is no such plan, fíjjate generally as follows:

In concrete houses:  columns, beams, walls and floor slabs

In buildings: In  addition to the above, walls around the elevators and separate departments. Beams and columns must not be damaged as are the elements that support the structure. If damaged, it can be by cracks or cracks in concrete or iron exposure. If the iron is, it indicates very severe damage, especially if they are cut or bent. In the case of a one – story house, it is advisable not to inhabit the area near the fault, if more than one floor or building, it is advisable to leave the property until it is revised.

Should not iron look to the naked eye but has a major crack, it is advisable to check with a pin through the crack if the iron is exposed. Nor it is good if a column has horizontal cracks in the upper and lower ends.

In the structural walls diagonals are the most dangerous cracks. A crack-shaped X needs urgent revision. This type of damage is usually repairable, unlike enfierrados problems.

Structural walls may be cracked at different magnitudes. Less than 2 mm crack usually is not dangerous unless it is widespread, then request an evaluation. If the crack is between 2 mm and 5 mm is recommended by filling the crack repair. If it is widespread in many parts of the house, it is recommended not live there until it is revised. If it is 5 mm to 1 cm is recommended not to inhabit the area of ​​the house near the damage, and see if you can repair immediately. If the crack is greater than 1 cm, it is recommended to leave the property until it is revised.

Slabs in ceilings see if there is oblique or diagonal cracks or a decrease in the center of the longest roof slab width, that is also bad sign. If cracks or fissures in the ceiling tiles are parallel to the windows, beams or chains, then it may be stucco, and does not represent damage. For underfloor, this is usually not structural elements.

For buildings, it is essential to review the case of elevators. Any damage to the walls of the elevators should be reviewed urgently. Diagonal cracks in the walls of the elevators is convenient to evacuate the building immediately. Otherwise, you need to call an assessment as soon as possible. Cracks in the perimeter walls that do not compromise other structures such as columns, are not a sign of structural damage because they are not designed to withstand the weight of the building, are just walls for spaces. But they must be repaired.

Masonry and adobe houses

Masonry house, follow the same directions as for concrete properties as to damage beams, columns or size of cracks in walls.

If the houses are brick there is only armor corners and are usually two or three rings, which is normal. In these cases cracks in the corners then there is severe damage.

In the case of adobe houses, it is often stiff and not resist well the different types of forces generated by an earthquake. Moreover, it is important to keep in mind for future aftershocks that unlike concrete and iron, Adobe is not deformed before collapsing, but it does so sudden. It is for this that should always be considered seismically vulnerable.

If the walls have cracks smaller than 0.5 mm (half millimeter) dwell cautiously and repair of cracks later. If the walls are more cracks to half a millimeter avoid inhabit the area of ​​the house involved, if the situation is not usually live in the house.

For wooden houses, it is recommended not live in the house if cracks in beams or columns are, or if there is damage to more than 20% of the walls of the house.

How to request a review of a property?

If your home, apartment or building detect cracks, formation of cracks or bulges, collapse or partial collapse, tilt structure, flaking plaster or ruptured pipes, make your report to the Secretariat of Civil Protection on telephone 5683 2222 or see the website of the CENAPRED and the National Seismological Service. Stay informed by official sources. Remember that Mexico City is in a seismic zone, so you should be well informed and prepared.

family cautious

There is a list of things that need to be nearby and would be useful in case of an earthquake. Organize them with your children and explain what they are and how to use them.

* Extintor.-  Teach children how to properly handle it . Do not let it become an element of play and explain under what circumstances they can use it. This must be located in an easily accessible and kept in good condition. Check the expiration date.

* Linterna.-  be very useful if the earthquake occurs at night or causing a blackout for long.

* Silbato.-  which is preferably metal, because it does not deteriorate. This will serve to make sounds in the event of being trapped. A whistle allows dogs to recognize the sound and can locate better.

* Radio portátil.-  used to listen to the recommendations impart authorities as meeting points, places you should not go and places where humanitarian aid is given.

* Pilas.-  Save enough batteries for the radio and flashlight and leave them outside the apparatus not spent or contacts appliances rust.

* Drinking water and pills purificadoras.-  The body can be kept without food, but never without hydration. Do not drink water you find in the street for clearer look because it can be contaminated. For babies, it is recommended milk powder.

* Food enlatada.-  Please note that it is ready to digest. Do not forget to continually check the expiration date. It also includes foods like lollipops and cereal bars, these will calories the body in case you have to place you in the street. For children, you can include powdered milk and water.

* Documents importantes.-  Keep a copy of your identification card medical services whole family, house deed and insurance policies, preferably plasticized. Have on hand some money.

* Elementos de aseo personal.- Crema, cepillo para dientes, papel higiénico y jabón. Toallas higiénicas suficientes (en el caso de las mujeres). Y elementos esenciales para la limpieza y cuidado del bebé, como pañales y toallitas.

* Auxilios.- first kit  with essential medicines and basic first aid kit. Also with those medicines requiring a family member. For example, if a member is diabetic or hypertensive, it includes spare boxes and continuously checks the expiration dates.

* Gloves carnaza or industriales.-  useful for removing debris. A utility knife is also helpful.

* Sweatshirts impermeables.-  If you wind sweatshirt well, this will not crowd and in case of an earthquake at night can serve as much to appease the cold.

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