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Standards Support Natural Disaster Preparedness and Recovery as Hurricane Dorian Moves from the Bahamas to Florida

9/3/2019

As rescue and recovery efforts from Hurricane Dorian get underway in the Bahamas, residents and businesses in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina are bracing for impact as the category 2 storm nears the Florida coastline.

While hurricanes and other natural disasters can’t be controlled, voluntary consensus standards can help to mitigate damage and support effective emergency response and cleanup efforts. Much of the impact of a hurricane is dependent on the design and materials used for the structures it affects. ASTM E3075-18, Standard Test Method for Water Immersion and Drying for Evaluation of Flood Damage Resistance, specifies water immersion, drying, and cleaning procedures to assess the characteristics of building materials that may be impacted by a hurricane’s resulting floodwaters. Developed by ASTM International, a member and audited designator of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), this American National Standard (ANS) applies to building materials used in construction below the base flood elevation.

An international standard offers guidance for building materials that may face a combination of high winds and heavy rain. International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 162, Doors, Windows, and Curtain Walling. The ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) administrator to this TC is the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer. ANSI is the U.S. member body to ISO.

Planning for any possible outcome is essential for an effective response to adverse weather events. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released a community reliance planning guide, intended to help U.S. communities better withstand and rebound from severe weather events. The guide contains a six-step process that communities can follow to develop resilience plans that help prepare for hazards, adapt to changing conditions, and withstand and rapidly recover from disruptions.

Beyond supporting buildings and strategies that can help a community better withstand a hurricane’s impact, standards also guide emergency response and protect responders during and after natural disasters. Residents seeking assistance or relying on radio, television, and phone alerts for information on natural disasters are supported by ATIS-1000006.2005(R2015), Signalling Systems No. 7 – Emergency Telecommunications Service. Developed by ANSI member and accredited standards developer the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), this standard provides guidelines for emergency communications systems that transmit crucial safety information during and after a storm. Additionally, the standards community is supporting advancements in telecommunications for emergency response as the U.S. moves towards a new system called Next Generation 911.

For the vital protection of emergency responders, NFPA 1999-2018, Standard on Protective Clothing and Ensembles for Medical Operations, specifies minimum documentation, design, performance, testing, and certification requirements for new single-use and new multiple-use by emergency responders, both prior to approval at medical care facilities, and at these facilities during emergency operations. These requirements help guard against highly infectious liquid-borne pathogens that may be present in flood waters. This ANS was developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an ANSI member and audited designator.

For more information about hurricane hazards, safety, and preparedness, visit the National Weather Service’s hurricane preparedness site.

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