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Building Safety Week 3: Prepare Your Community

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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 three (May 15-21) is Prepare Your Community, which focuses on how building codes help to protect us against flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfire events. The ICC provides resources and educational materials to help building professionals and the public understand the role of building codes in creating resilient communities. The week also features events and activities to promote awareness of building safety and resilience.

Codes Can Protect Against Disaster

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advocates hazard-resistant building codes as a highly economical solution for safeguarding our citizens and communities from disasters. The implementation and adherence to these codes can result in life-saving measures, preserve billions of dollars, and ensure the protection of property for future generations.

According to FEMA, from 1980 to 2015, there was an average of six billion-dollar disasters per year. However, between 2016 and 2018, the number increased significantly to 15 per year. A shocking 65% of counties, cities, and towns across the United States have not implemented up-to-date building codes and merely 27% of jurisdictions vulnerable to hazards have adopted the most recent two versions of building codes that are resistant to such risks. The implementation of I-Codes could prevent cumulative losses of $132 billion to $171 billion through 2040. Adopting modern I-Codes in all new buildings in the U.S. could save the country over $600 billion by the year 2060.

Plan Ahead

To ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones, it’s important to have a clear evacuation and communication strategy in place as well as an emergency supply kit readily available. Take a look at these basic yet life-saving suggestions and head over to for detailed guidance on coping with various emergencies such as earthquakes, heatwaves, floods, home fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and many more.

Draft an action plan for your family and disseminate it to all members to establish a location to assemble in case of an evacuation. Check and evaluate multiple exit routes from your household or local vicinity to an assigned gathering spot for your clan. Make a stockpile of disaster supplies that can be utilized to remain indoors after a calamity or for usage in a fortified shelter. Ensure that replenishments are available for essential items in your kit as needed. Stay attuned to official reports and essential meteorological information through radio, television, and NOAA Weather Radio.

Reduce Your Risk

Hazard mitigation is a defensive approach that reduces long-term risk to people and property from future disasters. According to, the impacts of climate-related hazards are already occurring, and they are projected to worsen in many regions around the world. To assess potential changes in your exposure to five commonly occurring climate-related hazards, head to

In the event of an earthquake, take measures such as securing large or top-heavy objects, fastening fixtures and electronics, ensuring easy access to exits, and locking cabinetry.

In instances of flooding, safeguard valuable items by storing them in waterproof containers, flood-proof your basement, raise utilities above the base flood elevation, add flood vents, and utilize flood-resistant insulation and drywall.

To mitigate the risks of wildfires, use fire-resistant materials when constructing your roof, establish a clear 30-foot buffer zone around your home, clean debris from your roof and gutters, and seal any gaps present in your exterior walls and roof.

When dealing with the danger of high winds from tornados or hurricanes, protect your windows and glass doors with storm shutters, reinforce your garage doors, fortify your roof, and remove any rotting trees or limbs.

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.

Posted In: Disaster Planning, Safety

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