While natural disasters cannot be stopped, there are actions that can be taken to increase the chance of survival and recovery for their homes, businesses and communities. The adoption of current model building codes and standards developed by the International Code Council (ICC), a strong and efficient system of code application, and a professional workforce of dedicated Building Safety Professionals are keys to mitigating disasters in jurisdictions throughout the United States. Other measures such as creating disaster plans, reviewing evacuation routes, and taking shelter can protect lives and property.
Since 1980, Building Safety Month has been an annual public safety awareness campaign. Sponsored by the Portland Cement Association (PCA), the theme for week two of Building Safety Month 2015, May 11-17, is “Bounce Back Faster From Disaster—Build To Code.”
“Disasters can strike at a moment’s notice and their power can be overwhelming,” explained ICC Board of Directors President Guy Tomberlin, CBO. “Mitigation is crucial for the short- and long-term recoveries of communities. Building to current codes and standards and being prepared are the foundation for a healthy built environment.”
Published by ICC, the International Codes and supporting standards such as ICC 500 Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters provide disaster resistant safeguards for the built environment. Several online resources also are available to help facility managers and business owners withstand disasters.
“Several programs are in place that increase the likelihood that businesses will be functional after a disaster,” said Steve Szoke, P.E., Director of Codes and Standards for PCA. “The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety offers FORTIFIED for Safer Living and FORTIFIED for Safer Business and there are a variety of guides from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The success of these programs is improved when the starting point is local code based on the latest editions of the International Building Code.”
Following are tips when preparing for any emergency:
- Develop a disaster plan that includes a list of food and water supplies needed. Create a checklist of important things to do before, during, and after a disaster.
- Taking shelter is critical in times of disaster. Sheltering in place is appropriate when conditions require occupants to seek protection in their places of employment or other locations when disasters strike.
- Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas, and water services if it is safe to do so.
- Review evacuation routes and emergency shelter locations.
- Review disaster plans regularly and update any changes immediately.
Facility managers should review their plans regularly. If you make changes that affect the information in your disaster plan, update it immediately.