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Standards Batten Down the Hatches during National Hurricane Preparedness Week

Each spring, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Weather Service (NWS) marks Hurricane Preparedness Week, part of a larger effort to focus attention on the importance of hurricane season preparation and education, as well as on the establishment of effective systems for the response, mitigation, and recovery from natural disasters like hurricanes. This year, Hurricane Preparedness Week is being held from May 26 to June 1.

During hurricane season, voluntary consensus standards developed by members and standards bodies accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) play an important role in protecting homes, businesses, and essential infrastructure from the most serious effects of adverse weather.

Strong storm winds involved in hurricanes present a significant danger to individuals and buildings located in hurricane-prone areas. These winds can pelt buildings, cars, and bystanders with flying debris and have the potential to pick up unsecured or loosely fastened objects from the ground and from nearby structures. An American National Standard (ANS), ANSI A250.13-2008, Testing and Rating of Severe Windstorm Resistant Components for Swinging Door Assemblies, sets down procedures for testing and establishing accurate load ratings for the components of exterior swinging door assemblies, in order to effectively protect such openings during exposure to wind speeds of up to 170 miles per hour, as commonly seen in hurricanes. The standard was developed by ANSI organizational member and accredited standards developer the Steel Door Institute (SDI).

The severity of the threat posed by hurricanes can sometimes force families in affected areas to evacuate their homes and seek refuge in specially designed storm shelters. A standard developed by ANSI member and accredited standards developer the International Code Council (ICC), in conjunction with the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA), ICC 500-2008, ICC/NSSA Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters, sets down minimum design and construction requirements for storm shelters designed to protect individuals from heavy winds associated with hurricanes, as well as from tornadoes and other storms exhibiting powerful winds. It also includes design requirements for the shelters' structural system and safety and health requirements for shelter occupants.

While hurricanes are best known for the destruction wreaked by their enormously strong winds, water damage and flooding associated with heavy rains can also pose a safety risk to structures in and around the path of a hurricane. An International Standard from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ISO 15821:2007, Doorsets and windows - Water-tightness test under dynamic pressure - Cyclonic aspects, provides guidelines for testing the ability of a given building to keep out water under weather conditions consistent with a hurricane, or other similar weather event. ISO 15281:2007 was developed by ISO Technical Committee (TC) 162, Doors and windows; ANSI member and accredited standards developer the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) serves as ANSI-accredited Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to TC 162.

In order to effectively respond to the myriad calls and public safety issues associated with hurricanes, emergency responders and other public safety personnel require well-run, well-designed communications and information systems. ANSI INCITS 415-2006, Homeland Security Mapping Standard - Point Symbology for Emergency Management, sets down a common set of symbols intended for use by mapmakers to convey essential information about map data, increasing emergency responders' understanding of the affected region and potentially speeding response times. This ANS was developed by ANSI organizational member the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

While most media coverage of hurricanes understandably focuses on the effects of hurricanes on residences and personal safety, other important structures are also at risk in major storms, including essential pieces of national infrastructure. In recognition of these risks, ANSI member and accredited standards developer the American Nuclear Society (ANS) has developed a standard intended to help safeguard nuclear facilities from risks associated with heavy winds. ANSI/ANS 2.3-2011, Estimating Tornado, Hurricane, and Extreme Straight Line Wind Characteristics at Nuclear Facility Sites, defines relevant site phenomena caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, and extreme winds in multiple regions of the U.S.; the standard is intended to aid the design of nuclear facilities.

While nothing can be done to prevent hurricanes, voluntary consensus standards can help government agencies and other organizations to effectively prepare for and respond to hurricanes and other weather-related natural disasters, reducing risks to public safety and structures of all kinds during hurricane season.

For more information about Hurricane Preparedness Week, visit the official site here.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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