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The original item was published from 5/12/2014 12:24:39 PM to 5/19/2014 12:05:03 AM.

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Posted on: May 12, 2014

[ARCHIVED] Building Safety Month: Week Two (May 12-18)

Prepare Your Family
Making sure your family is prepared for any natural disaster is important. Below are some of the steps you can take to prepare your family and protect your home from natural disasters. Your actions can ensure that no matter what Mother Nature brings, you, your family, and your community will be resilient.

Here are a few tips to follow from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes – (FLASH®) when preparing your family for any emergency.
• 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.

Protect Your Home
The power of these natural disasters can be overwhelming. While you can't necessarily stop natural disasters from happening, there are steps you can take to increase your home's chance of survival, even in the face of the worst Mother Nature can dish out.

If the earthquake occurs in a populated area, it may cause deaths, injuries and extensive property damage. Here are some helpful tips to prepare your family and protect your home.
• Plan and hold earthquake drills for your family. To learn more about planned earthquake drills in your area, visit
• Identify two ways to escape from every room in the home.
• Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person's bed.
• Select a safe location away from the home where your family can meet after evacuating.
• Have an earthquake kit containing water, food, medicines and other necessities for at least three days
• Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation
• Strap water heaters, appliances and TVs to wall studs.
• Anchor bookshelves, heavy furniture, appliances and televisions to wall studs.
• Secure pictures, mirrors and ornaments to the wall with appropriate fasteners.
• Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas, and water services.

Devastating floods occur throughout the U.S. every year. Ninety percent of all presidentially declared natural disasters involve flooding. Flooding is usually divided into two categories: flash flooding and river flooding. Both can cause death, injury and property destruction. If you are building or retrofitting your home consider these recommendations:
• Elevating your home above the base flood elevation (the elevation associated with the "100-year flood") is the best method of protecting your home, and is a requirement for new homes.
• Wet flood proofing your home allows flood water to flow through the structure. An example of wet flood proofing is installing flood vents that create permanent openings in the foundation.
• Dry flood proofing your home prevents floodwaters from entering the building. An example of dry flood proofing is installing new brick veneer over asphalt coating and applying polyethylene film over existing walls.
• Construct non-supporting, break-a-way walls designed to collapse under the force of water without causing damage to the foundation.

A well-built home can stand up to hurricanes. FLASH provides homeowners the tools to make sure your house is hurricane-ready with the Protect Your Home in a FLASH program.
• The best place to start is with a Do-It-Yourself Wind Inspection to find out what is ok with your house and what needs attention.
• In a high wind event anything can become a dangerous flying object. Take a day to make your landscaping more hurricane resistant.
• Check to see if your gutters are clear of leaves and other debris to prevent flooding.
• Improve your roof's resistance to uplift by applying a 1/4 -inch bead of caulk of along the intersection of the roof deck and the roof support element (rafter or truss chord) on both sides with a caulking gun.
• If your home is not protected by impact-resistant windows and doors or impact-resistant shutters or panels, consider building your own temporary emergency panels.

Tornados and High Winds
A properly built, high wind safe room protects your family from the most intense tornadoes and hurricanes and can be incorporated into a planned build or renovation to create a multiuse space in your home, adding to its value. FLASH urges homeowners to "Give an Ordinary Room an Extraordinary Purpose" by building or retrofitting interior spaces in their home to safe-room standards.
• Tornado safe rooms are designed to withstand winds up to 250 miles per hour, and offer lifesaving refuge for families in the path of high-wind events like tornadoes.
• A safe room designed to meet standards set forth by the National Storm Shelter Association, the International Code Council and FEMA and will stand up to the most intense tornadoes and hurricanes.
• Safe rooms can be located anywhere on the first floor of your home, in a basement or outside. A safe room can double as a closet, bathroom, laundry or even an outdoor room like a garden shed or pool house.

Each year, thousands of acres of wild land and many homes are destroyed by fires that can erupt at any time of the year. Wildfires spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes. You can protect your home by following these tips.
• Prevent wildfire damage by developing a defensible space in your landscaping by clearing at least 30 feet around your home, or 50 feet around your home 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. Mow your grass and control the height and spread of ground covering vegetation. Keep plants at least 12 to 18 inches away from the house.
• When putting on a new patio deck, build from fire-resistant materials. On new and existing decks, create fire barriers around the deck base and clear vegetation at least 100 to 300 feet downhill from the deck base.
• Install only burning-brand, exposure rated (Class A, B or C) roof assemblies using materials such as asphalt shingles, slate or clay tile or metal roof coverings.
Go to or for more information on how to protect your home.

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