Building Safety Month
Building Safety Month is an international campaign that takes place each May to raise awareness about building safety. This awareness effort reinforces the need for the adoption of modern, regularly-updated building codes, and helps individuals, families and businesses understand what it takes to create safe and sustainable structures.
Week One - Building Safety Starts at Home
Regardless if you own your home or you're renting, 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 (more on this in the next section). From mold prevention to electricity safety tips from a code inspector, here are some of the highlights pulled from the resources below.
- 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’s or installer’s directions.
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.
Here we've listed a few fire safety tips:
- 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.
These are just some of the topics covered this week by the International Code Council. Visit their webpage for more.
Week Two - Building Safety Professionals & You
While you’re probably very familiar with what your local police and fire departments do, you may be less familiar with building safety professionals. In that way, building safety professionals are the silent defenders of public safety.
Here are a few things you should know:
- Building safety professionals include building inspectors of all kinds, building officials, plans examiners, permit technicians, fire marshals and more.
- Building safety professionals are constantly training and keeping up with the latest codes and standards.
- Their knowledge spans every aspect of the life of a building – from the bottom of the foundation to the top of the roof – and everything in between.
- Many building safety professionals have experience as architects, engineers, contractors or even government officials.
- There are many paths available to become a building safety professional.
What do they do?
Building safety professionals provide guidance and advice to architects, engineers and contractors to help them bring building projects to life while ensuring safety for occupants and residents. They also help keep existing buildings safe by conducting inspections and adopting the latest building codes. They are community-oriented and dedicated to making the world a safer place. Building safety professionals:
- Protect the public through their commitment to building safety.
- Enforce code compliance to empower and educate partners to embrace and integrate safety standards in their work.
- Ensure that buildings are constructed to withstand the stress of everyday use.
- Perform safety checks that protect your home from emergencies before fire, flood or disaster strike.
- Support economic development by making our buildings studier, and therefore longer lasting.
- Play a significant role in community planning decision making as a connection between government, business and built environment partners.
Week Three - Prepare Your Community
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), one of the most cost-effective ways to safeguard our residents and our communities against disasters is to adopt and follow hazard-resistant building codes. When adopted and enforced, building codes can save lives, save billions of dollars and protect property for generations to come. Here are a few facts to consider:
- Since 1980, the average number of billion-dollar disasters has been six per year, but from 2016 to 2018, the number jumped to 15 per year.
- A staggering 65% of counties, cities, and towns across the U.S. have not adopted modern building codes.
- Only 27% of hazard-prone jurisdictions in the U.S. adopted the latest two editions of hazard-resistant building codes.
- The I-Codes could help communities avoid $132 billion to $171 billion in cumulative losses through 2040.
- If all new buildings across the U.S. were built to modern editions of the I-Codes, the country would save more than $600 billion by 2060.
Having an evacuation and communication plan in place and an emergency supply kit on hand can help protect you and your loved ones. Review these simple, life-saving tips and visit Ready.gov for specific tips on dealing with earthquakes, extreme heat, floods, home fires, hurricanes, tornados, wildfires and more.
- Develop a family action plan and share with everyone in your family, so you will know where to go if an evacuation is called.
- Review at least two exit routes from your home or neighborhood to a designated meeting place for your family.
- Create a disaster supply kit that will allow you to remain in your home after a disaster or for use after evacuating to a safer location. Be sure the necessities in your kit are fresh and restored as necessary.
- Stay tuned to radio, TV and NOAA Weather Radio for official updates and critical lifesaving weather information. Remember, reception is usually best if placed near a window.
Week Four - Advocate for Your Community
We all have a role in making sure the places where we live, work and play are safe. From reaching out to your local media, to advocating for building safety to local leadership, even the smallest action can make a difference.
- Talk to your network about building safety and share fact-based information and resources on your social media accounts.
- Share news releases with your local newspapers, radio stations, and television networks to encourage local media to cover stories related to building safety.
- Share building safety information or concerns with the Board of Trustees.
- Plan community events to raise awareness or attend local events about building safety.
- Contact the code officials in your area to learn more about the building industry and discover local volunteer opportunities.
Get Kids Involved
The International Code Council has a Kids Corner page to help parents, teachers, and community leaders teach kids what building safety professionals do, and how they make our homes and communities safer for everyone. With a little help from CODiE the Cheetah, kids can work through our Building Safety Month activity book to complete their training and earn a certificate as a Junior Code Official.
- Download and share weekly lesson plans that feature building safety themes and objectives.
- Listen to our special episode of the Pulse Podcast on "Kids and Building Safety".
- Print kid's safety checklist for an interactive building safety experience at home.
- Building Safety Month activity book includes fun puzzles and games that teach kids what to do to keep themselves and their families safe, aware and prepared.
- Browse Building Safety Month-themed items that are perfect for little aspiring safety officials at home.
- Host a Building Safety Kids Day to spread awareness and encourage kids to explore building safety.