Using car tires to reinforce houses could be replicated in other poor countries where earthquakes are frequent and people live in masonry houses. Examples of such countries include India, Pakistan, Iran, and South American countries on the Pacific coast. "If this approach works, just think how many lives could be saved and how much material loss could be prevented on the global scale," says Turer.
This idea is based on a "do-it yourself" approach, so the project will succeed only if people embrace it. A publicity campaign is one of the most important phases of the project. The project will initially target poor people who live in high seismic zones that did not have an earthquake in last 20-30 years. This makes these areas more likely to receive an earthquake in near future. Pilot projects areas will be determined by overlapping high seismic zones with heavily populated areas where most people live in masonry houses. With the help of national and local television stations, Turer will film his laboratory experiments, in which he will reinforce houses and then destroy them in a simulated earthquake. He plans to show these test results on local TV channels that broadcast information of interest to farmers and poor people. He is also preparing television programs that explain the approach and demonstrate the benefits it could yield by showing "before" and "after" reinforcement tests. "I want people to see these improvements with their own eyes, so that they themselves will be willing to do those improvements," Turer explains.
Since 1992, more than 18,000 people have been killed in earthquakes and some $20 billion has been estimated in damages. If people start reinforcing their house walls, many lives would be saved and many masonry houses would remain standing following an earthquake. "If only one percent of people start using this approach, we would save some 100 lives and $3.5 million over the next 10 years," says Turer.
The agreement is recently signed on Feb 23, 2004, and the methods that will be developed by the project will be available on early 2005. Turer and his team at the Middle East Technical University are working hard in their laboratory to refine the idea. They must create walls to test the resistance after retrofitting them with tires. They want to optimize how many tires are needed per wall, and what is the best pattern to use when applying tires. Then they will apply their findings on real buildings in pilot tests. They plan to start their publicity and education campaign by the end of 2004.