Building Safety Week 1: Building Safety Starts at Home
For the last 43 years, the International Code Council has hosted Building Safety Month, an international campaign celebrated each May to raise awareness about building safety. This event focuses on the need for safe and sustainable structures where we live, work, and play. This year’s theme is “It Starts With You,” and each week focuses on a different topic. Week one (May 1-7) is Building Safety Starts at Home, highlighting how building safety impacts our everyday lives. Topics included in this week’s theme are Fire Safety at Home, Building Safety at Home, and Sustainability at Home.
Fire Safety at Home
Modern homes and buildings incorporate the latest building codes and are designed to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks. While building safety professionals help maintain this system, there are things we can do at home to stay safe and help reduce the risk of fire. If a fire does break out, it’s also critical to know how to make a safe exit – it takes less than 30 seconds for a small flame to burn completely out of control and turn into a major fire.
- Put a smoke alarm on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area, and inside every bedroom.
- Test each smoke alarm regularly. Keep batteries fresh by replacing them annually.
- Make an escape plan so everyone knows how to get out fast. Pick a meeting place outside the home where everyone will meet.
- Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away.
- Keep all items that can burn away from your home, clean leaves from your gutters, and clear dead leaves and branches from shrubs and trees.
Building Safety at Home
Keeping your home maintained is important to ensure you’re living in a safe environment. Home maintenance encompasses a wide range of preventative tasks that all contribute to occupant health, occupant safety and security, and overall sustainability. From mold prevention to electricity safety tips from a code inspector, here are some highlights.
- Never overload electrical cords or power strips. Be sure the total amount of energy used by appliances and lights plugged into the cord or strip does not exceed that capacity.
- Don’t use appliances that have damaged cords.
- For mold prevention, watch for leaky pipes, condensation and wet spots, and fix sources of moisture problems as soon as possible.
- There are several materials and items that shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet, including medication, disposable wipes, coffee grounds and more.
- To prevent your pipes from freezing this winter, drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer or installer’s directions.
This ACCA blog post discusses the 3 worst mistakes home builders and contractors make in attics.
Sustainability at Home
The International Code Council is helping our communities forge a path forward on energy and sustainability to confront the impacts of a changing climate, and these guiding tenants can be used at home, too! With fresh water supplies at risk and an ever-increasing load on the power grid threatening communities around the world, every proactive step we take at home makes a big difference in decreasing our footprint and burden on the system. Keep these tips in mind the next time you set your thermostat, plan a home renovation, and more.
- Install water-saving shower heads and low-flow faucet aerators, and use your water meter to check for hidden water leaks.
- Never dump anything down storm drains.
- Change the filters in the heating and cooling system of your home regularly.
- Replace your light bulbs with LEDs, which use up to 90 percent less energy and last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
- Design your home with materials that are easily recyclable, reusable, renewable, durable, affordable, and low maintenance.
- Build a rain garden to capture roof drainage and divert it to your garden or landscaping. Be sure to check your local rules on rainwater harvesting prior to installation.
Read more about clean energy in this ACCA blog post.
Additional resources and downloads for each topic can be found here. 2023 Building Safety Month sponsors include the American Gas Association, Society of Fire Protection Engineers, Gypsum Association, American Concrete Institute, Simpson Strong-Tie, National Multifamily Housing Council, and more.
Continue to follow along here as we provide coverage of ICC’s Building Safety Month throughout May.
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