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Disaster Safety and Mitigation News You Can Use

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Building Safety Month 2010 During May, Building Safety Month 2010, the International Code Council Foundation is providing weekly tips and links to additional resources consumers can use to save money and prevent disasters. The week of May 9-15 focuses on Disaster Safety and Mitigation.

"Code enforcement is a primary tool to protect us where we live, work and play," said International Code Council CEO Rick Weiland. "We only need to look at the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile to see how codes and effective enforcement can reduce risk. Studies show that for every dollar spent before a disaster event we save from four to eight dollars in the costs of response and recovery. But the infrequency of some disasters can make us forgetful regarding the necessity of using codes as the first line of defense. Also even if you adopt codes and standards, if you don't have trained people on the ground to ensure compliance and provide support, it doesn't matter. Code officials who check and double-check code compliance and administer building safety codes play a major role in saving lives, protecting property and reducing costs to taxpayers and building owners," Weiland said.

"Homes that survive damage from disasters are typically labeled as 'lucky.' Luck may come into play, but a home that is built to the appropriate codes stands a good chance of surviving disasters," said Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc.

- FLASH(R) President/CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson.

There are many things consumers can do to ensure they are prepared in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. Here is a list of zero to low-cost suggestions and long-term improvements homeowners can do to protect their homes.

Zero Cost: Plan in advance. Develop a family disaster plan that includes a list of food and water supplies needed for each member of your family, a plan and supplies for your pets, important documents and files, a disaster kit and what to have in it, maps of local evacuation routes and emergency shelter locations, important contact information for local emergency providers and a checklist of important things to do before, during and after a disaster.

Reduce the threat of wind-borne projectiles. This is a major factor in home damage and destruction during hurricanes, tornadoes and at other times when the wind is a danger. Bring anything inside that may become airborne during a storm, such as patio furniture, potted plants or toys.

Visit www.FLASH.org to access a free, online wind inspection toolkit, how-to videos and consumer resources.

Low Cost: Purchase a NOAA weather radio with battery back-up for your home.

To protect places where wind and water may enter the home, replace window flashing or caulk it.

Don't overlook attics. Shutter soffit vents and gable-end vents with code-approved products. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, measure, cut and pre-drill all shutter plywood and material using 5/8-inch thick exterior grade plywood.

Long-Term Improvements: Install code-approved, opening protection for all exposed windows, glass surfaces, sliding glass doors, exterior doors and skylights for high-wind protection.

Install a "Safe Room" in your home to help protect your family from tornadoes, hurricane winds and other severe windstorms. Shelters or safe rooms built to comply with the International Code Council/National Storm Shelter Association 500 Standard or FEMA 320/361 can withstand winds of up to 250 mph and can be incorporated into the construction of a new home or retrofitted into an existing home.

Prevent wildfire damage by developing a defensible space in your landscaping and clearing at least 30 feet around your home and 50 feet if you reside in a heavily wooded area. Plant fire-resistant, native vegetation and remove any dead or dying trees. Properly prune shrubs and trim tree branches so they don't extend over a roof or near the chimney.

For More Disaster Safety Tips Visit: Building Safety Month BASF - The Chemical Company Federal Alliance for Safe Homes International Code Council International Code Council Foundation First observed in 1980 as Building Safety Week, Building Safety Month is sponsored by 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.

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