September is National Preparedness Month
Tragedies are somber reminders that preparedness is a shared responsibility and that it is critical to maintain readiness. Preparedness is a shared responsibility that takes participation from the whole community.
Over the past year, communities nationwide have witnessed and endured damage from multiple hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, floods, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters. The historic hurricane season of 2017 included three catastrophic storms that made landfall within a month and was followed by a destructive series of wildfires in California. Combined, these natural disasters affected 47 million people and tens of thousands were mobilized to provide aid, comfort and assistance. In fact, last year was the costliest year for natural disasters in United States history. Seeing that these disasters can strike in any shape or form at any given time, it is important to prepare in advance to help yourself and your community.
Be self-sufficient following an emergency
Since its inception in 2004, National Preparedness Month, recognized each September in the United States, reminds us that we all must prepare ourselves and our families now and throughout the year. Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within the Department of Homeland Security, National Preparedness Month encourages Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools and communities.
How quickly a company is able to get back to business after a tornado, fire or flood often depends on emergency planning and preparation done before the disaster strikes. National Preparedness Month is a time to focus our attention on the importance of preparing our families, homes, businesses, and communities for disasters that threaten our lives, property, and communities. This year’s National Preparedness Month is focused on planning, with the theme “Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.”
Week 1: Sept 1-8 — Make and Practice Your Plan
Week 2: Sept 9-15 — Learn Life Saving Skills
Week 3: Sept 16-22 — Check Your Insurance Coverage
Week 4: Sept 23-29 — Save For an Emergency
“People often ask how they can help out first responders in an emergency,” said MaryAnn Tierney, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regional administrator. “One of the best ways is to be self-sufficient following an emergency; that takes pressure off of responders and they can focus on the most critical situations.”
Building codes save lives
Building Safety Month — a public awareness campaign created by the International Code Council — celebrates jurisdictions worldwide during the month of May to help individuals, families and businesses understand what it takes to create safe and sustainable structures. The campaign reinforces the need for the adoption of modern, regularly-updated building codes; a strong and efficient system of code enforcement; and a well-trained, professional workforce to maintain the system.
This year 35 U.S. governors, 337 local jurisdictions, and U.S. Congressional representatives Louis Barletta (R-PA 11th District) and Peter Welch (D-VT At-large District) joined International Code Council chapters, members and partners worldwide to proclaim the importance of building safety, building codes and the role of code officials.
“Building safety and fire prevention officials, architects, engineers, builders, tradespeople, design professionals, laborers and others in the construction industry work year-round to ensure the safe construction and maintenance of buildings. It is through their efforts that our nation continues to address critical safety issues in the built environment that affect our citizens in both everyday life and in times of natural disaster,” said Congressman Welch.
“In the U.S. House of Representatives, we have made major strides in promoting pre-disaster mitigation,” said Congressman Barletta. “The measures in this bill [H.R. 4460] will help our communities better prepare for and respond to disasters of all kind, in keeping with the mission of National Building Safety Month.”
This year’s theme — Building Codes Save Lives — raised awareness about building safety and the importance of current safety codes and the role of code officials in creating safe, sustainable structures that communities can rely on for generations to come.
“Building Safety Month brings attention to issues that are not regularly considered unless disaster strikes. Modern codes and standards incorporate the latest technology and provide the safest, most resilient structures for our families and communities to protect against building failures, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, high-rise fires and other modern-day disasters,” said Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO. “Building codes really do save lives.”
Building Safety Month weekly themes throughout the month spotlighted specific areas of building safety. In particular, week 3 of the international campaign focused on “Protecting Communities from Disasters.” Last year’s devastating hurricane season and rampant wildfires highlight the necessity of focusing on building safety and building codes to protect our homes and communities. Disaster mitigation efforts such as building code adoption and enforcement is one of the strongest strategies jurisdictions can take to protect a community against the effects of natural hazards. Mitigation increases occupant health and safety during a disaster, protects the local tax base, ensures continuity of essential services, and supports more rapid recovery from disasters.
“The Code Council, in partnership with our members and stakeholders, works hard year-round to ensure that we work, live and play in strong, safe buildings. Through Building Safety Month activities, we recognize the dedication of our code officials and celebrate the fact that the International Codes result in the highest level of building safety in the industrial world,” said Code Council Board President Jay Elbettar, P.E.
Resources, and information, including 2018 Building Safety Month posters, a social media toolkit, a sample proclamation and news release template, and safety tips handouts are available online.
Emergencies and disasters test the resilience and strength of families, communities and our nation. It is impossible to avoid every challenge and threat, but we must prepare for them and help protect our communities and save lives.