ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Active Hurricane Season Predicted, Standards Stand By

New York, May 25, 2007

As the start of the Atlantic hurricane season swiftly approaches, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its official seasonal outlook, predicting above normal activity this year. The agency has forecast up to seventeen named tropical storms this season, three to five of which could become hurricanes of category three strength or higher. In hurricane-prone regions, special building codes and standards help to shore up structures and protect the safety of inhabitants.

Hurricanes, which are marked by sustained winds of seventy-four miles per hour or higher, demand the need for well-designed wind resistance standards. Developed under the ANSI-approved consensus procedures of the International Code Council (ICC), the Standard for Determining Impact Resistance from Windborne Debris and Standard for Determining Wind Resistance of Concrete or Clay Roof Tiles help to protect structures against the onslaught of severe wind and wind-strewn objects. Both standards work in conjunction with the ICC International Building Code and other model building codes.

Standards for wind-borne debris impact tests are also written by ANSI member and accredited standards developer ASTM International. Consensus-based references for wind-borne debris protection, the ASTM documents set the test method (ASTM E1886-05) and provide a specification (ASTM E1996-06) for determining the performance of windows, doors, and storm shutters. Originally developed for hurricanes, ASTM E1996-06 may also be used for other similar windstorms capable of generating wind-borne debris.

Current activities underway within the standards community examine new ways to mitigate the damaging effects of hurricanes. The ICC’s Consensus Committee on Hurricane Resistant Construction is at work on a standard for hurricane resistant construction that will specify methods of wind resistant design and construction details for wood or steel framed, concrete, and masonry structures in hurricane-prone areas. For its part, the ICC/NSSA Consensus Committee on Storm is hammering out Standard on Design, Construction and Performance of Storm Shelters. Intended for use by shelter designers, building officials, emergency management personnel, government officials, and others, the standard will outline technical design and performance criteria to facilitate the construction of safe and reliable storm shelters.

The ability to communicate during or after an emergency is critical to response personnel and families alike. ATIS (Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions) has a draft standard in the works that will support operations, administration, maintenance, and provisioning of emergency telecommunications service following hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, and other disasters. The project was introduced within ATIS by the National Communications System, the U.S. government agency that coordinates the planning and provision of national security and emergency preparedness communications.

When hurricanes hit, strong building codes and standards help to save lives and property, but preparing ahead of a storm is an important part of mitigating damage, particularly when there are expectations for an active season. To help residents in hurricane-prone regions prepare, the International Code Council offers the following recommendations:

At the beginning of hurricane season:

  • Prepare emergency supplies and store bottled drinking water
  • Store flashlights and extra batteries
  • Clean storm gutters and drains
  • Prepare your home for high winds and rain
  • Repair/replace storm shutters
  • Check your property insurance policy for appropriate coverage

Before a storm:

  • Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools.
  • Anchor objects that cannot be brought inside
  • Check/replace emergency supplies and store bottled drinking water
  • Review evacuation plans
  • Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy

For more ICC tips on steps to take during and after a storm, click here.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, with peak activity occurring August through October. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center will issue an updated forecast in August prior to the historical peak of the season.

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