May 9, 2011
The recent outbreaks of deadly tornadoes across Southern and Midwest states are a reminder of the potential for natural disasters to cause property damage and take lives. They also serve as a reminder to take precautions that can lessen the impact.
Throughout the month of May — Building Safety Month — International Code Council Members are providing opportunities for the public and builders to learn about building safety by sharing ideas that make homes and buildings safer and energy efficient. The second week of Building Safety Month, championed by the International Code Council Foundation, is devoted to disaster safety and mitigation.
“We can’t stop disasters but by building to the latest construction codes and standards we definitely can reduce the risks to people and property,” ICC CEO Richard P. Weiland said. “Many components contribute to lessening the impact of a disaster. None is more important than those made by the people most responsible for developing, adopting and enforcing building safety codes: building and fire officials, architects, engineers, designers, specifiers, contactors and others who in some way contribute to building safety and easing the impact of disasters.”
“There are many things consumers can do to ensure they are prepared in the event of a natural disaster,” says Leslie C. Henderson, president and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), a national non-profit organization and sponsor of Disaster Safety and Mitigation Week. “One of the most important is to include a tornado safe room in your house – a room designed to withstand winds up to 250 miles per hour.” Safe rooms become even more important in the southeast and other areas where basements and other below-ground shelters are not an option.
As families affected by the recent tornado outbreak in the southeast begin to recover and start plans to rebuild, FLASH encourages all to “Give an Ordinary Room an Extraordinary Purpose” by building or retrofitting bathrooms, closets, laundry rooms and other interior spaces to safe room standards. The free online resource, www.highwindsaferooms.org, provides cost estimates and sample building plans that allow families and builders to learn how these spaces can be incorporated into a structure.
Throughout Disaster Safety and Mitigation week, members of the ICCF and FLASH will be sponsoring events to educate consumers on how to: develop a family disaster plan; create a disaster preparedness kit with evacuation routes; secure windows, roofs, doors and attics from high winds and rain; prevent the opportunity for wildfire damage, to name a few.
“Through our work, we see first-hand the remarkable difference that a little advance planning can make in avoiding the devastating effects of natural disasters,” says Henderson of FLASH. Consumers can find links to videos with examples and easy-to-follow instructions at www.flash.org.
First observed in 1980 as Building Safety Week, Building Safety Month is a program of the International Code Council Foundation. The International Code Council Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the mission to promote public awareness of ideas‚ methods and technologies that encourage the construction of safe, durable and sustainable buildings and homes, reducing the devastating effects of building damages due to natural disasters and other tragedies.