Week One: Disaster Preparedness

Building Safety

One of the best ways for communities to prepare for disasters is to build to the most up-to-date, modern building codes.  Disaster mitigation through the adoption and enforcement of building codes provides you, your family and your community protection in the even of a natural disaster.

It is very important that codes are properly applied.  Proper application requires that local building departments be sufficiently staff with plan reviewers, inspectors and other qualified professionals, and that building officials are trained and stay up to date with code advancements through continuing education.  Studies show good code enforcement decreases loss following disasters by up to 25 percent.  When states and local jurisdictions apply the latest codes and they are diligently enforced, they are more likely to qualify for federal pre-disaster mitigation funding and for more post-disaster recovery assistance.  Further, newly expanded FEMA grants in the U.S. will fund code adoption, administration and enforcement pre- and post-disaster - providing new resources for U.S. communities to update or building out enforcement efforts.

Here are a few tips to follow when preparing your family for any emergency.
  • Determine your risk.  Identifying and understanding possible hazards and emergencies is the first step in preparing for natural disasters.
  • Consider incorporating a safe room in building plans and improvements.  A safe room is a hardened structure specifically designed to meet FEMA criteria and provide near-absolute protection in extreme weather evens, including tornadoes and hurricanes.
  • Develop a family disaster plan that includes a list of food and water supplies needed for each member of your family and supplies for your pets.  Make copies of important documents like insurance policies, the deed to your home, and other personal papers, important phone numbers and a home inventory.  Create a checklist of important things to do before, during and after a disaster.
  • Review your evacuation route and emergency shelter locations with your family.  Options for evacuation would include staying with friends and relatives, seeking commercial lodging or staying in a mass care facility operated by disaster relief groups in conjunction with local authorities.
  • Taking shelter is critical in times of disaster.  Sheltering in place is appropriate when conditions require that you seek protection in your home, place of employment or other location where you are when disaster strikes.
  • Review your plan regularly.  If you make changes that affect the information in your disaster plan, update it immediately. 
  • Visit FEMA's Prepareathon! to learn more about how to prepare for earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and winter storms.  Get involved to help prepare your family and community.