Preparing Your Home For Natural Disasters
Natural calamities can tear our lives apart. Everything that goes beyond a certain limit can be hazardous to life, property and the economy of a place. Natural disasters can cause the complete destruction of homes, towns and even Cities. So how do we prepare our homes against natural calamities?
In the light of the recent rains and flood in Kerala in August 2018, we saw a tremendous loss of life and extreme damage to property. Farms, homes, and settlements have been wiped away. Here are some simple tips on how one can prepare themselves and their homes to face natural calamities and limit damage to property and life as much as possible.
Types of natural disasters
Different types of natural calamities can cause havoc in our lives. Earthquakes, drought, floods, cyclones, heat wave, excessive rains, etc. are the few common disasters that we face in India. While hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, etc. are also prevalent, it is not a common occurrence in our Country.
Ensure enough ventilation
Due to the rising impact of global warming, summers are getting hotter with every passing year. While it is manageable in some parts of the Country, the severity of the same can cause death and sickness amongst people. Make sure that your home is prepared to combat the heat. While planning your home ensure that you opt for natural ventilation as far as possible and encourage the placement of openings that promotes cross ventilation. It is also imperative to build in response to the climate that your City experiences. Glass clad buildings and completely air-conditioned structures can be a real hazard as they are not just uneconomical but neither are they ecologically sensible. Failure of the power supply, lack of openings, etc. can make the indoors extremely hot, humid and uncomfortable.
Earthquake resistant structures
If you are residing in an area that is prone to earthquakes- ensure to hire an expert Structural Engineer to design the structure of your home. Use superior quality and earthquake resistant material in construction. The foundation of the structure should be given utmost importance.
In terms of the proneness to Earthquakes, Bureau of Indian Standards has classified regions in India into four seismic zones based on historical seismic activity. These are zones II, III, IV, and V. All districts in the state of Kerala lies in Zone III (moderate intensity zone).
This information is vital. That’s why, for the construction of apartment structures, we at Confident Group initially conduct the soil test, and it is only based on the result of this particular test that our qualified structural consultant will implement a well-compacted foundation which ensures minimum impact in cases of earthquakes and soil erosion due to flood and rains. Also, we provide ductility detailing as ductile structures perform much better during earthquakes. A ductile reinforced concrete structure may take care of the impact, both primary and secondary, due to differential settlement of the foundation.
Erosion reduces the embedment of the foundation into the soil, causing shallow foundations to collapse. We construct buildings on deep foundations; it is less susceptible to settlement, lateral movement or overturning from lateral loads.
In case of villa projects, we use a combined frame and load-bearing structure. By providing strut columns, plinth beams, lintels, sill beams, and RCC bed blocks the cracks that may appear due to earthquake & soil erosion caused by flood and rains will be drastically reduced. We also provide adequately anchored RCC foundations to prevent flotation, collapse or lateral movement of the structure.
It is advisable to not store large or heavy objects on open shelves which can be prone to falling easily. Avoid placing heavy objects above beds or seating areas as they may fall and hurt the occupants in case of an earthquake. Earthquakes can be a real threat to life and property. If there are any cracks or weak members in a structure, they should be attended to immediately as they may cause further distress to both the structure and the occupants by causing massive damage to the structure and may even lead to loss of lives. It is imperative to evacuate and reach an open area away from structures. It is advisable to gather in parks, playgrounds, etc. Prepare your family with the necessary awareness about how to evacuate in times of such emergencies. The staircase should be easily accessible, and the exit points should not be blocked in any way.
Drought is yet another natural calamity that is affecting our nation a lot. While we, as City dwellers may not understand the direct impact of it, we are experiencing it nevertheless. The scarcity of water can impact agriculture, but the shortage of water supply, especially in summers is a common occurrence in Cities as well. Learn, teach and practice water management, and try to reduce the consumption of water as much as possible. Teaching and practicing ways to reduce wastage of water goes a long way. The best way to combat this is by recycling water and practicing rainwater harvesting. While rains may be scarce during drought, one can always utilize rainwater when it's available – making their home as self-sufficient as possible.
Flood resistant structures
Floods can cause real damage to life and property. Make sure that your home is built on a raised plinth if you reside in a region that is prone to more rains. While the sloped roof is often preferred in such locations, the roof should be maintained and any damage to tiles, any leaky spots should be fixed immediately. Waterproofing should be given a lot of importance for exposed surfaces. Keep sandbags handy as they help clog the water and prevent it from entering your home. Keep gutters, drains and pipes clean and free of any materials that may block the flow of water. It is crucial to understand the slope of the site and build accordingly and not against the slope of the site. If the meteorological department has issued a warning about floods, it is best advised to move furniture and valuable objects to a higher level where the water may not reach. Opt for sufficient natural ventilation as lack of the same will promote moss, mildew, and dampness inside the house. If you live in an area that is susceptible to floods or excessive rains store away extra umbrellas, raincoats and other essentials that may come in handy for your family and neighbours when in distress.
Safety of your family
While each natural disaster comes with its precautions, it is essential to opt for a structure that can withstand such distress. Natural ventilation is crucial with unhindered exit points. It is always advisable to store away extra mattresses, bedspreads and other utilities that may come in handy at such difficult times. Rescuing your family and your fellow residents should be your top priority, and one should have an inventory of items needed for such situations. It is at this time that a sense of unison and community comes forth to bring people together.
Keep valuables safe
Lastly, it is imperative to keep track of valuables that you may have in your house. Building safe and secure lockers can come in handy at these points. If the items of worth are larger, try to move them to a safe place if possible. Try to take into account the things that you may have to leave behind as looting and robbery can be at an all-time high.
Preserve food items
Another essential that one must take care of is the preservation of food. If possible, one must store away food items and grains in more significant quantities for such situations. A storeroom with different types of storage will be of great help as one can safeguard food essentials on higher levels, on lofts or in steel cases and secure the room and use the items with the going gets though.
Use these simple tips to prepare your home to tackle disasters to the best of your potential.
P.S : The recent floods in Kerala was a real eye-opener. Let's all stand together to rebuild this glorious state. Our prayers are with those who've lost their loved ones. It was an unfortunate event, and all of us at Confident Group extend our sincere condolences to all those who've been affected by this. Let's stand together, let's support each other and let's pledge to build a stronger God's Own Country.