Phivolcs launches self-check app for home safety against earthquakes

Illustration of the How Safe is My House application (Phivolcs / Facebook)

On the 31st anniversary of the Magnitude 7.8 of 1990 Luzon earthquake July 16, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs – DOST) has launched a mobile application to assess the vulnerability of houses to strong earthquakes.

“Earthquakes by themselves do not kill people, unlike building collapses,” DOST Undersecretary Renato Solidum Jr. noted.

Called “How safe is my home ?,”This application provides a simple and easy to use tool for owners and occupants of residential houses and other concrete hollow block houses from one to two floors.

Users will need to answer 12 questions about the app and these are:

  1. Who built or designed my house?
  2. How old is my house?
  3. Has my house been damaged by earthquakes or past disasters?
  4. What is the shape of my house?
  5. Has my house been enlarged or enlarged?
  6. Are the exterior walls of my house 6 inches (150 mm) thick CHB?
  7. Are steel bars of standard size and spacing used in the walls?
  8. Are there unsupported walls more than 3 meters wide?
  9. What is the gable of my house made of?
  10. What is the foundation of my house?
  11. What is the condition of the soil under my house?
  12. What is the general condition of the house?

After completing the survey, a score sheet on the app will appear, showing the home’s rating during an earthquake.

The result determines whether the structure is safe and likely to be built according to standard construction procedures. If not, he may recommend further professional consultations and the necessary structural strengthening.

The score of 11 to 12 means the house is well built, 10 to 8 needs strengthening, and 7 below indicates the house is vulnerable to strong earthquakes.

Solidum pointed out that the strength of the house depends on how it was built and not on the height of the structure.

“If the structure is not properly designed, built and does not use the right materials, then it can be affected by a strong earthquake, whether it is one story, two stories or more” , did he declare.

In 2014, Phivolcs DOST had collaborated with the National Research Institute for Earth Sciences and Disaster Resilience (NIED), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japanese Science and Technology (JST) and the Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines (ASEP), to develop a survey which would aim to assess the integrity of homes in the Philippines.

“How safe is my house? Can be viewed for free on Google Play Store or via the website

Phivolcs also launched the DOST-funded 3D Philippines program that will provide visualization and analysis of surface and subsurface data in the Philippines.

The program will also help local government units, engineers and developers examine the hazards surrounding the building through PH Danger Hunter.

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