Are the modern buildings safe?
Whether a new skyscraper or a simple one-storey house is being built, the safety issues always come first. However, it is principal to determine what we are securing ourselves against: is it an earthquake, flood, fire or regular burglary? Nowadays, the builders consider few if not all the high-risk factors.
In light of recent Grenfell Tower inferno that left at least 80 people dead or missing, the importance of construction safety has significantly bumped up. Yet, fire is not the only jeopardy that architects, planners and builders face and try to avoid. Here we call your attention to some major aspects that do make the modern structures safer than those erected a few decades ago.
Home break-ins happen in the UK almost every minute, making London the Kingdom’s burglary hotspot with 16 of the top 20 areas with high crime rate. The most endangered are the houses where the old locks have not been changed for years. A low-cost solution for this problem is to find the locksmith near your location, since even simple security systems scare the burglars off in 50 cases out of 100. Some construction companies provide the doors of the buildings with smart locks or offer advanced Building Automation System that controls and monitors the security and fire systems, ventilation, power and lighting. The BAS might also include sensors mounted on the wall or ceiling that can detect any motion and send an alarm to your smart device. cameras can be a part of the system. Interestingly, the number of UK households with some form of smart home has increased to 4 million in 2015.
Back to the fire threat. The present-day market offers a wide choice of different constructing materials – from the cheapest to the perfectly expensive. Most of the time, the reason behind the fire is poor quality of used goods and the work made in a slipshod manner. Nevertheless, new building are better armed against fire, for they are equipped with fire alarm and sprinkler systems. They can be activated either by smoke or heat, or both together. Thick walls and fire-proof liners divide the building into separate zones to prevent fire from spreading quickly. Also, some of the building are provided with so called refuge floors that can resist fire for longer time. Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and India successfully use such uninhabited compartments. On top of all, engineers plan on building fire-resistant elevators to hasten the evacuation process. The world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa already has a safe lift for emergency cases.
During the last 37 years over 18,300 people worldwide have died under the ruins of their homes that were not earthquake-resistant. Since there is no construction entirely immune to damage caused by alike catastrophes, engineers aim at erecting structures that can withstand large earthquakes. For this, the building must be appropriately sized and made of steel-reinforced concrete. An isolated base will improve the respond of the building to seismic waves. The last but not the least important aspect is the soil a structure stands on – it has to be solid, not to allow the building collapse. Seismic prone areas such as Japan, southern Europe, and the western regions of the USA bear this safety regulations in mind, while the population of Latin America, the Middle East, African and Asian countries still live in vulnerable and life-threatening housing conditions.
Wind and Flood Safe
Other natural disasters can also significantly damage or destroy the building and lead to human victims. Heavy rains, strong wind and floods happen now too often and even in the regions where they are not a common occurrence. The deadly storm in Moscow caused severe damage to many buildings. In order to protect buildings from such disasters engineers suggest elevating the structure, as well as using the materials that can get wet but at the same time easily dry. Moreover, the effect of wind suction is largely used on the roofs of industrial, residential and commercial buildings.
It is clear that not always the innovative approach and design works to our best, yet the main achievement is that engineers nowadays aim at human safety and comfort.