17-23 January 2014 #690

Wake before it shakes


15 January marked 80 years since the great 1934 earthquake which killed 4,500 people in the Kathmandu Valley. The next big one is due any day and in its wake our cities will most likely resemble the sets of a post-apocalyptic movie.

In the long-term, we must focus on retro-fitting old houses to make them more earthquake-resistant and implementing tougher building codes so that the newer structures are more capable of withstanding a jolt. And even as our ministers and government officials turn the anniversary celebrations into mere photo-ops, it is worth remembering that even something as basic as investing in early warning systems like quake alarms will help save lives and limbs.  

Manufactured by JDS Products, an American company with more than two decades worth of experience in the safety products market, the Quake Alarm is a simple, yet extremely effective device.  Weighing in at just over 900 grams and a mere eight inches in size, the alarm is extremely easy to mount to wall. The white casing houses a nine volt battery (with five years warranty) and powers the device.  But it’s the reverse pendulum detection system which endows the alarm with life saving powers. 

When an earthquake strikes, two types of waves emanate from its epicentre: ‘P’ waves (compression waves) and ‘S’ waves (shear waves). While the ‘P’ waves travel faster, the ‘S’ waves, although slower, carry the quake’s destructive power. When the Quake Alarm’s pendulum detects the speedier ‘P’ waves originating from hundreds of kilometres away, it produces a loud, distinctive sound warning residents of the impending quake. Depending on how close and deep the epicentre is, the gadget can provide up to 30 precious seconds for its owners to flee to safety.

Although you can’t really put a price on the valuable seconds the device gives you by eliminating the guesswork involved in detecting an earthquake, Quake Alarm can be ordered from Amazon or Harilo.com for approximately Rs 6,000 (including VAT, service charge, and shipping). A small investment today will go a long way in protecting hundreds of lives tomorrow.

So prepare your earthquake survival kits, practice your safety drills, and when the alarm goes off, gather your loved ones and head to safety. 

Yantrick’s Verdict:  with fault lines along the Himalayas ready to snap any time, the Quake Alarm is an absolute must for every school, office, and home in the Valley. 

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