Posted by: Ed Laatsch, Chief, Building Sciences Branch, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration
President Barack Obama proclaimed May as National Building Safety Month, recognizing the key role safe building codes and standards play in the fight against loss of life and catastrophic damage caused by disasters.
Building Safety Month highlights the importance of resilient building, to save energy, protect the environment, and lessen the effects of disasters. During this month of building safety awareness, we want to emphasize our commitment to support communities in their efforts to build stronger and safer, now and all year long. FEMA, in consultation and coordination with building science experts, encourages construction that can lessen the damaging effects of disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding.
Here are a few examples of how we encourage better building:
- We work with organizations, like the International Code Council, and state and local building officials to help develop, and encourage the adoption of disaster-resistant building codes and standards. These standards, when adopted, will lead to the construction of buildings that can help reduce damages and protect lives.
- FEMA, through our Building Science Branch, works with scientists and design professionals from federal, state, territorial, local, non-profit, tribal and private sector organizations to assess disaster damages, capture research results, and develop technical guidance for building stronger and safer. This guidance focuses on both construction and retrofitting of existing buildings. We also provide technical guidance to disaster affected areas through workshops, in-person meetings, and other outreach events.
- Most recently, we published the Mitigation Assessment Team Tornado Report this month, which was developed in response to the tornadoes that impacted the Southeast and Mid-Western Regions in the spring of 2011. Following these tragic events, we sent out investigative teams to evaluate the damages and to look at the resilience of the structures left standing. These teams documented the observations and conclusions of these events and developed recommendations for improvements in building design, construction, code development and enforcement and materials. Additionally, they documented mitigation activities that increased resiliency and aided new construction and post-disaster building repair and recovery.
Our interest in building safety covers a wide range of natural and technological hazards including wind, earthquake and even flood. Through the National Flood Insurance Program, FEMA helps communities and individuals make informed decisions about where and how to build buildings to make them flood resilient.
Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, tornados, snow storms, wildfires and others will still occur; however, FEMA and our partner’s efforts to build stronger and safer are helping communities and citizens across the nation prepare for, withstand, and recover from disasters.
Visit fema.gov or the Building Safety Month Website for additional information and resources and learn simple steps you can take today to better prepare their home or business property for a disaster.