Here’s your quick guide to earth­quake safety

Hindustan Times (Gurgaon) - City - - ENTERTAINMENT - (The writer, San­deep Shah, is an M.Sc. Earth­quake & Civil Engg. Dy­nam­ics from Univer­sity of Sh­effield, UK. For earth­quake safety info: www.tay­lor­pro­ or what­sapp: 9810257911)

On Sun­day night there was a high mag­ni­tude quake in Iran-Iraq that caused a huge loss of life and prop­erty. Even though the birth of the tallest moun­tains has taken place in the In­dian Sub-Con­ti­nent through a series of earth­quakes, the In­dian com­mu­nity at large is least aware about earth­quake safety mea­sures. Last year, ex­perts from Min­istry of Home Af­fairs had warned that mul­ti­ple high­mag­ni­tude earth­quakes likely to strike North In­dia.

It is fun­da­men­tally im­por­tant that all are aware of at least the ba­sic earth­quake safety in­for­ma­tion, and the fore­most is that earth­quake re­sis­tant build­ings are of 4 types. De­tailed def­i­ni­tions are con­tained in National Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity guide­lines. To sum­marise the 4 types, Cat­e­gory A: Op­er­a­tional – Build­ing will not sus­tain any struc­tural or non-struc­tural dam­age dur­ing a ma­jor quake. Cat­e­gory B: Im­me­di­ate Oc­cu­pancy – Build­ing will sus­tain mi­nor non-struc­tural dam­age but no struc­tural dam­age. It will be safe for oc­cu­pa­tion im­me­di­ately af­ter a ma­jor earth­quake. Cat­e­gory C: Life Safety – Build­ing will get struc­turally dam­aged, will have to be va­cated and re­paired. Cat­e­gory D: Col­lapse Pre­ven­tion – Build­ing will sus­tain se­vere struc­tural dam­age; re­pairs will not be eco­nom­i­cally fea­si­ble and the build­ing will need to be de­mol­ished.

Earth­quake Re­sis­tance Cat­e­gory pro­vides es­sen­tial safety in­for­ma­tion to the end users. Due to lack of pub­lic aware­ness all build­ings are be­ing built to the min­i­mum stan­dard i.e. Cat­e­gory-D. Tech­ni­cal jar­gon like Zone 4/5 is be­ing used to con­fuse peo­ple. Zones de­pict the seis­mic haz­ard, and has no rel­e­vance as to how safe the build­ing will be against an earth­quake. Many, putting up build­ings are not tech­ni­cally com­pe­tent on earth­quake safety know-how. The National Build­ing Code 2016 rec­om­mends tech­niques like base-iso­la­tion and dampers should be used to pre­vent loss of lives and prop­erty against earth­quakes.

It is im­por­tant that be­fore buy­ing or leas­ing prop­erty, a writ­ten cer­tifi­cate be ob­tained as to what is its earth­quake re­sis­tance cat­e­gory. The cat­e­gory of the build­ing can also be found out by ob­tain­ing all the struc­tural draw­ings and then con­sult­ing a struc­tural en­gi­neer for un­der­tak­ing per­for­mance based de­sign as­sess­ment as per ASCE-41.

Schools should pe­ri­od­i­cally con­duct struc­tural safety au­dit as chil­dren are trained to go un­der the desk when a quake hap­pens. It should be en­sured that schools are al­lowed to op­er­ate only if they have struc­tural draw­ings and con­duct safety au­dit.

Amongst oth­ers, the most sus­cep­ti­ble are Build­ingsOn-Stilts (those hav­ing open car park on ground floor), Flat-Slab build­ings (mostly of­fice/com­mer­cial) and Un­re­in­forced Ma­sonry build­ings. These can pan­cake col­lapse, caus­ing many ca­su­al­ties. If a cor­po­rate was to have its of­fice in an un­safe build­ing it would be a huge risk. There would be huge le­gal im­pli­ca­tions if peo­ple die in col­lapsed build­ings.

The most cost-ef­fi­cient way to up­grade build­ings is to sim­ply in­stall dampers, these are like the shock ab­sorbers and ab­sorb the earth­quake en­ergy, so the build­ing re­mains un­harmed. Tay­lor De­vices man­u­fac­tures the world’s best dampers and have done over 650 projects in all parts of the world. These dampers are built us­ing aero­space tech­nol­ogy and comes with 35 years war­ranty. Seis­mic dampers can cost ef­fi­ciently up­grade a Cat­e­gory-D build­ing to Cat­e­gory-B at a very nom­i­nal cost of ` 350 per sqft.

San­deep Shah

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