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News and Notices

City of Auburn Encourages Year Round Building Safety During Building Safety Month

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 23, 2012

AUBURN, Wash. – May 23, 2012 – This month is Building Safety Month. This year’s theme is “An International Celebration of Safe and Sensible Structures” that highlights four areas including fire safety and awareness, backyard safety, disaster safety and mitigation and energy and green building. City of Auburn officials urge all citizens to practice building and outdoor safety throughout the year.

“Public safety is our number one concern,” said Mayor Pete Lewis. “During Building Safety Month and all year long, building safety and fire prevention officials are here to help protect you, your family and our community.”

Building safety and fire prevention codes address all aspects of construction, such as structural soundness of buildings, reliability of fire prevention and suppression systems, plumbing and mechanical systems, and energy efficiency and sustainability. To ensure buildings are safe requires the active participation of building safety and fire prevention officials, architects, builders, engineers, contractors and others in the construction industry, as well as property owners.

If you have questions or would like more information on building safety, please contact the City of Auburn Planning and Development Department at 253-931-3090.

The following are tips for each of the four building safety areas that the City of Auburn encourages you to follow:

Fire Safety and Awareness Tips 

  • Install smoke alarms in each bedroom, outside of sleeping areas and rooms and on each level of your home. 
  • Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.
  • When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable – they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.
  • Test your smoke alarm each month and change the batteries at least once a year.
  • Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
  • Install noncombustible 1/4 inch or smaller mesh screening on attic/soffit vents and around elevated wood decks to keep out embers. Install approved or listed spark arrestors on chimneys of solid fuel or liquid fuel burning appliances.
  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
  • Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
  • Maintain a “defensible” space around your home by clearing all flammable vegetation a minimum of 30 feet around all structures. Clear dead leaves and branches to leave widely spaced ornamental shrubbery and trees.
  • Plant fire prone trees and shrubs away from your home and far enough apart so they won’t ignite one another.

Disaster Safety & Mitigation

Making sure your family is prepared for any natural disaster is important. Below are some of the steps you can take to prepare your family and protect your home from natural disasters. Your actions can ensure that no matter what Mother Nature brings, you, your family and your community will be resilient:

  • Develop a family disaster plan that includes a list of food and water supplies needed for each member of your family and supplies for your pets. Make copies of important documents like insurance policies, the deed to your home, and other personal papers, important phone numbers and a home inventory. Create a checklist of important things to do before, during and after a disaster.
  • Review your evacuation route and emergency shelter locations with your family. Options for evacuation would include staying with friends and relatives, seeking commercial lodging, or staying in a mass care facility operated by disaster relief groups in conjunction with local authorities.
  • Taking shelter is critical in times of disaster. Sheltering in place is appropriate when conditions require that you seek protection in your home, place of employment, or other location where you are when disaster strikes.
  • Review your plan regularly. If you make changes that affect the information in your disaster plan, update it immediately.

Earthquakes

If an earthquake occurs in a populated area, it may cause deaths, injuries and extensive property damage. Here are some helpful tips to prepare your family and protect your home.

  • Plan and hold earthquake drills for your family.
  • Identify two ways to escape from every room in the home.
  • Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed.
  • Select a safe location away from the home where your family can meet after evacuating.
  • Have an earthquake kit containing water, food, medicines and other necessities for at least three days
  • Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation
  • Strap water heaters, appliances and TVs to wall studs.
  • Anchor bookshelves, heavy furniture, appliances and televisions to wall studs.
  • Secure pictures, mirrors and ornaments to the wall with appropriate fasteners.
  • Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas, and water services.

Backyard Safety

As families move outdoors to enjoy nice weather in spring and summer, special precautions should be taken to ensure outdoor areas are safe from potential hazards. Swimming pools, barbecue grills, gardening tools and fertilizers, and lawn toys all pose risks to children and adults alike: 

  • Practice constant, adult supervision around any body of water, including pools and spas. Nationally, drowning is a leading cause of death to children under five.
  • If you’re considering a swimming pool purchase, contact your local Building Department first to determine exactly what permits are needed and what requirements you must follow.
  • In-ground and above-ground pools, including inflatable pools holding more than 24 inches of water, must be surrounded by a fence or other barrier at least four feet high. Any gates in the fence must be self-closing and self-latching.
  • Reserve a spot on a wall or fence near the pool for lifesaving devices, including a portable or mobile telephone.
  • Steps and ladders for above-ground pools should be secured or removed when the pool is not in use.
  • Use a cover for the pool when it is not in use.
  • Make sure drain covers are properly fitted and paired or have vacuum suction releases to prevent being trapped under water.
  • Consider installing a pool alarm that can alert if someone enters the pool.
  • Spa water temperatures should be set to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to avoid elevated body temperature, which could lead to drowsiness, unconsciousness, heat stroke, or death.
  • Designate the grilling area as a "No Play Zone" and keep kids and pets well away until grill equipment is completely cool.
  • Check propane cylinder hoses for leaks before use.
  • Do not move hot grills.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.
  • Don't leave toys, tools and equipment in the yard.
  • Keep steps, sidewalks and patios in good repair.
  • Check all swings, slides, playhouses and other structures for sharp objects, rusty metal pieces, breaks or weakened support pieces.
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Energy & Green Building

Building green means living better, smarter and healthier. Just by choosing energy-efficient building materials and supplies, homeowners can make positive changes to both inside and outside environments, creating homes that are better for you and our world. Building green does not necessarily mean starting from scratch or spending more money. There are many ways to improve the green factor in existing homes by using longer-lasting and sustainable materials:

  • Use energy-efficient light bulbs, turn off lights and unplug electronics not in use.
  • Seal air leaks.
  • Install programmable thermostats.
  • Upgrade windows, heating and air conditioning equipment.
  • Change filters frequently.
  • Install more insulation in walls and attics.
  • Choose energy efficient appliances.

If you are building new, consider the best position on the lot for trapping light and energy, and make use of energy-efficient foundation, framing, plumbing, wiring and HVAC systems now available.

Green homes are also healthier homes, reducing mold, mildew and other allergens that contribute to asthma and other significant health issues. Below are tips for keeping your home dry and mold-free: 

  • Keep it dry: install a drain pan under the water heater; place dehumidifiers in basements and other damp areas; position downspouts away from the house; repair any water damage. 
  • Keep it clean: use track-off mats at all doorways; clean up dust to eliminate contaminants such as lead dust and allergens.
  • Keep it ventilated: install or replace exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens (make sure they vent to the outside).
  • Keep it contaminant-free: use wire shelving that doesn’t collect dust; have your home tested for radon and lead-based paint.

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City of Auburn
Mayor’s Office
25 West Main Street
Auburn, WA 98001
253-931-3041