May is Building Safety Month with recognition and appreciation for the Building Code Officials, Inspectors and Technicians who keep us safe!
Week 1 Theme - Keeping Fire in Its Place
Top 5 causes of home fire deaths
- Faulty or non-existent smoke detectors/alarms
- No safe or clearly defined exit from the building
- Children too young or frail adults unable to respond to emergencies
- Failure to monitor and use cooking and heating appliances safely
- Careless smoking
So what can you do to prevent fires in your home? The USFA offers these statistics and tips:
- Children under age 5 are twice as likely as the rest of us to die in a home fire. So create an escape plan and make sure everyone in your home practices it. Plan two routes of escape from every room, and designate a meeting place outside of the home. Remember: get out and stay out.
- The third leading cause of fire death for older adults is cooking. Never leave cooking unattended because a serious fire can start in seconds. Don't wear loose clothing while cooking. Keep towels and pot holders away from the range. Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave your home.
- The second leading cause of fire death for older adults is heating. When buying a space heater, look for the auto-off feature should the heater fall over. Keep space heaters at least three feet away from other objects. Your fireplace should have a screen large enough to catch flying sparks and rolling logs.
- The number one cause of preventable home fire deaths is smoking. If you smoke, practice these fire-safety tips to avoid putting your life, your home and your family at risk: Don't leave a burning cigarette, cigar or pipe unattended. If you feel drowsy, put it out immediately. Use deep ashtrays. And, never smoke in bed.
- More than 2,500 Americans died in home fires last year. In most cases, the home did not have a working smoke alarm. A sounding smoke alarm gives you with the extra seconds you need to get out of your home - alive. Install and maintain a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Replace the battery every year. It's a simple way to help keep you and your family better protected 24-7.
Download the following public safety information (pdf):
Week 2 Theme - Helping Homeowners Manage Disasters
Prepare Your Family by 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 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 Shake OUT
- 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 day.
- 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.
Download pdf - Earthquake safety guide
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.
Learn how to prepare and build safely by downloading the Building Codes Toolkit
Week 3 Theme Water Safe, Water Smart
As families move outdoors to enjoy nice weather in spring and summer, special precautions should be taken to ensure outdoor areas are safe from potential hazards. Swimming pools, barbecue grills, gardening tools and fertilizers, and lawn toys all pose risks to children and adults alike.
Backyard Safety Tips
- Practice constant, adult supervision around any body of water, including pools and spas. Help your children learn to swim. Consider taking CPR classes yourself.
- Nationally, drowning is a leading cause of death to children under five.
- If you're considering a swimming pool purchase, contact your local Building Department first to determine exactly what permits are needed and what requirements you must follow.
- In-ground and above-ground pools, including inflatable pools holding more than 24 inches of water, must be surrounded by a fence or other barrier at least four feet high. Any gates in the fence must be self-closing and self-latching.
- Reserve a spot on a wall or fence near the pool for lifesaving devices, including a portable or mobile telephone.
- Steps and ladders for above-ground pools should be secured or removed when the pool is not in use.
- Use a cover for the pool when it is not in use.
- Make sure drain covers are properly fitted and paired or have vacuum suction releases to prevent being trapped under water.
- Consider installing a pool alarm that can alert if someone enters the pool.
- Spa water temperatures should be set to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to avoid elevated body temperature, which could lead to drowsiness, unconsciousness, heat stroke, or death.
- Designate the grilling area as a "No Play Zone" and keep kids and pets well away until grill equipment is completely cool.
- Check propane cylinder hoses for leaks before use.
- Do not move hot grills.
- Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.
- Don't leave toys, tools and equipment in the yard.
- Keep steps, sidewalks and patios in good repair.
- Check all swings, slides, playhouses and other structures for sharp objects, rusty metal pieces, breaks or weakened support pieces.
Week 4 Theme Promoting Energy Efficiency
Building green means living better, smarter and healthier.
Just by choosing energy-efficient building materials and supplies, homeowners can make positive changes to both inside and outside environments, creating homes that are better for you and our world.
Building green does not necessarily mean starting from scratch or spending more money. There are many ways to improve the green factor in existing homes by using longer-lasting and sustainable materials. Download pdf - Building Green-Living Better
Energy Efficiency Tips
- Use energy-efficient light bulbs, turn off lights and unplug electronics not in use.
- Seal air leaks.
- Install programmable thermostats.
- Upgrade windows, heating and air conditioning equipment.
- Change filters frequently.
- Install more insulation in walls and attics.
- Choose energy efficient appliances.
If you are building new, consider the best position on the lot for trapping light and energy, and make use of energy-efficient foundation, framing, plumbing, wiring and HVAC systems now available.
Green homes are also healthier homes, reducing mold, mildew and other allergens that contribute to asthma and other significant health issues. Below are tips for keeping your home dry and mold-free:
- Keep it dry: install a drain pan under the water heater; place dehumidifiers in basements and other damp areas; position downspouts away from the house; repair any water damage.
- Keep it clean: use track-off mats at all doorways; clean up dust to eliminate contaminants such as lead dust and allergens.
- Keep it ventilated: install or replace exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens (make sure they vent to the outside).
- Keep it contaminant-free: use wire shelving that doesn't collect dust; have your home tested for radon and lead-based paint.
For more information on Mold and Lead-based Paint download the following public safety information (pdf):