Building & Renovating

Can Your Home Withstand an Earthquake?

How safe is your house? Check your space for structural integrity today


These past few days, we’ve been seeing and hearing news about the West and East Valley Fault System and the possibility of a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hitting the country.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) recently released the Valley Fault System Atlas to inform the public as well as to encourage earthquake-preparedness. The said atlas is a collection of detailed-large-scale maps that point to the areas along the West and East Valley Fault System, a 100-kilometer-long active fault located in the Greater Manila Area.

"The Valley Fault System Atlas was conceptualized as a handy reference for everyone to serve as a guide in making sure that areas traversed by active faults are avoided as sites of houses and structures and considered in various mitigation and response actions to enhance the safety and resilience of communities to strong earthquake events,” explained PHIVOLCS director Dr. Renato Solidum, Jr.

Click here to see the list of barangays that are said to be located on top of the Valley Fault System.

Earthquake preparedness is essential in every home. In an interview with architect Kaydee Marie O. Velasco, U.A.P, C.B.P., who specializes in master planning, architecture, and sustainable practices, she said that the first thing you should check when buying a home or moving into one is how close you are to a fault line.

Here are excerpts from her interview that we should take note of:

Avoid areas where fault lines are located as this is where most of the damage will be inflicted during an earthquake. If you can't just leave a family property, build at least 25 meters away from the fault line.

If you’re hunting for a new home, look for homes and buildings that are “earthquake-safe.” You may also ask your building administration about this if you’re moving into a condo.

Cracks on columns may mean that the structure is not stable. If you’re living in a condo, the safest place for evacuation purposes is near the exterior of the building. Meanwhile, the most stable location is near the elevator.

To help you prepare your home for disasters, take note of these tips:

Secure cabinets and shelves onto the walls. Store heavy objects on lower shelves. Consider using non-slip mats for ornaments and small objects to keep them from falling off.

Ask a structural engineer to check how your house can be retrofitted to make it sturdier.

Replace or repair broken mirrors, light bulbs, cabinets, shelves, ceiling boards, and other loose fixtures.

Finalize and discuss an evacuation plan with the whole family. Know where to go and how you can regroup. You can meet in open spaces such as a village park or parking lot.

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