May is Building Safety Month: IBHS Offers Affordable Ways to Make Your Home Safer when Disasters Strike

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IBHS takes this opportunity to remind all Americans that reducing the risk of damage from a variety of natural disasters can be fairly easy, effective and affordable.

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Recent testing conducted at the multi-hazard IBHS Research Center prove that there are many effective ways to reduce property damage from natural disasters that can be affordable and, in some cases, free.

President Obama has formally declared that May is “Building Safety Month” and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) takes this opportunity to remind all Americans that reducing the risk of damage from a variety of natural disasters can be fairly easy, effective and affordable.

Recent natural disasters, such as the historic tornadoes that ripped through Alabama, catastrophic flooding along the Mississippi River, fierce wildfires that recently burned from border to border in Texas, and the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan serve as reminders that Mother Nature is as powerful and deadly as she is unpredictable.

Last year, the U.S. experienced a record number of natural disasters, with 247 events, including a record $2.6 billion in winter storm losses and $9.5 billion in thunderstorm losses. With the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season just weeks away, now is the time for residents to take action to reduce the risk of damage to their property and protect their families.

“One of the biggest roadblocks to incorporating disaster resilience into remodeling or new home construction is the mistaken belief that it is always expensive,” said Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO. “However, post-catastrophe field research over many decades, as well as recent testing conducted at the multi-hazard IBHS Research Center prove that there are many effective ways to reduce property damage from natural disasters that can be affordable and, in some cases, free.”

High wind testing at the IBHS lab conducted last October demonstrated the critical role inexpensive metal straps play in keeping a home’s roof attached and the entire structure intact. The cost of the strapping for the entire two-story, 1,300 sq.ft. structure was less than $100. Also, wildfire ember storm testing conducted at the IBHS lab in March demonstrated that simple things like cleaning gutters, removing debris from the roof, and keeping dry vegetation away from walls can greatly reduce the chances of home ignition. Another example of low-cost, but crucial loss reduction steps can be found in IBHS’ newest guide, “Reduce Six Common Earthquake Risks for Less Than $70,” which offers ways to reduce earthquake damage using hardware purchased at a local hardware store or home improvement center for less than $70. The guide provides a list of items necessary to complete each project.

“Our research shows that it frequently does not cost a lot of money to better prepare a home to withstand natural risks,” Rochman said. “Property owners must take the time and make the effort to increase the resiliency of their home, and doing that during May is a great way to participate in National Building Safety Month.”

To arrange an interview with IBHS representatives, contact Joseph King at 813-675-1045/813-442-2845, jking(at)ibhs(dot)org or via direct message on Twitter @jsalking.

About IBHS
IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.

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