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    Home remedies

    Busy as hell here. I’m keeping up with the news as usual but don’t feel as I had the mind space to write about it. One thing I noticed a few weeks ago that’s become more relevant since this weekend’s earthquake in Indonesia:

    A simple and inexpensive method of minimizing earthquake damage by using plastic packing tape is being promoted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency through public demonstrations in quake-prone Pakistan.

    The method was developed by Prof. Kimiro Meguro of Tokyo University’s Institute of Industrial Science.

    The polypropylene, which has good tensile strength, is applied in a protective grid on the walls of buildings. The tape is then coated with plaster for protection against ultraviolet rays.

    The method costs only a few thousand yen per house and does not significantly mar the appearance of the buildings.

    In March, JICA demonstrated the packing tape engineering in an area of Pakistan devastated by an earthquake last year that left 70,000 people dead.

    Local engineers and administrators were impressed, as reinforced miniature structures stood unharmed while other buildings collapsed after receiving an intensity-6 jolt in the demonstration.

    “The engineering is suited to many countries since polypropylene tape is available around the world and is consistent in quality,” said a spokesman for the Global Environment Department of JICA.

    The tape and plaster don’t magically turn stacks of brick or mud brick into shear walls, obviously. I’m assuming that in a lot of cases, tape-reinforced walls would survive a strong quake just long enough for residents to leave a house before it crumbled, but even that’s a major innovation when you’re dealing with simple materials and inadequate framing. It also means that less manpower and other resources needs to be expended on rescue operations. Assuming the method performs as well in reality as it does in the lab, it’s the kind of practical idea–realistic about what locals can get their hands on and simple enough not to require a whole lot of tech knowledge–that could turn into genuinely useful foreign assistance.

    It’s unfortunate that there’s no packing-tape bandage for inadequate transportation infrastructure and distribution management systems, which always prove to be the major problems after the immediate exigency of rescue fades. Along with other countries providing aid, Japan has an advance medical relief team and SDF unit in Java now to assess how best to deliver relief.

    2 Responses to “Home remedies”

    1. Eric Scheie says:

      I think I’ll tape up my brick house and wait for the countdown. If it doesn’t work, at least my death will be part of a statistical compilation. (Well, life should have meaning, shouldn’t it?)

      :)

    2. nindy says:

      thank you for sharing

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