Building codes are critical to ensuring that all of a community’s buildings are constructed to withstand natural hazards. In the earthquake-prone areas of the western United States, buildings should at least meet current life-safety seismic codes in order to keep people safe from structural collapse when a damaging earthquake strikes.
Be sure to join the International Code Council and other partners throughout earthquake country this month to get the word out and raise awareness about the importance of building code adoption — including regular updating and code enforcement!
In April, FEMA and the U.S. Geological Survey published an updated version of Hazus Estimated Annualized Earthquake Losses for the United States. This report reveals that earthquake risk—the exposure of people, the built environment, and the economy to earthquake hazards—is significantly higher than in the past, and it continues to rise.
The report provides criteria and methodology for comparing seismic risk across regions. By looking at what is located in earthquake hazard areas and assessing the potential damage from earthquakes, the new study is able to estimate annualized losses, both nationwide and state-by-state. The results ought to draw serious attention to the need for greater investment in seismic mitigation and strong building codes to ensure that every community’s building stock and infrastructure remain safe and functional when earthquakes strike. The cost of doing too little is very high indeed.