We have now entered the Age of Disasters, the human and economic impacts of which will escalate during the present century. The root causes of this are:
The concentration of people, assets and wealth in smaller geographic footprints, making them richer hazard targets, while at the same time giving us a false sense of security.
Consumers can make a difference by taking matters into their own hands and not waiting for government.
For most, our home is the center of wealth and safe-keeper of family members, of irreplaceable personal items and life’s memories. All deserve to live in a hazard-safe home. This documentary aims to help make you a ‘resilience-smart consumer’, by:
Given all the above, what can and should homeowners do?
- Your family, home and possessions are not to be gambled. Wall Street and insurers play the odds. They describe hazard events in terms of 1 in a 50, 100, 200 years, or 0.5%, 1%, 2% probabilities, and so on. But they gamble with the money of others, not their family and property. Are you using such assumptions to risk your family and property? Even if you’re not, the building code system is gambling for you. These assumptions consistently prove to be inadequate. Best to assume the hazards in your area are a certainty, not a probability. See what the worse ever conditions have been. Then add a safety factor for the future possibility that climate change could make things even worse,
- Over 80% of property losses are due to 4 hazards: wind, water, fire and seismic (earthquakes). All areas are affected by fires. Water risk exists for all coastal areas, as well as inland areas near active water bodies (large and small), or near low points in the local terrain. Seismic areas are well established. Finally, wind areas are hurricane, typhoon and tornado prone locations. Most locations are affected by 2,3 or all 4 hazards. Your home is only as strong as its weakest link.
- You’re not in a safe situation.if your area could be hit by a category 3 hurricane/typhoon/tornado (wind speed 165 mph) and your home is only built for 110 mph. Same if your home is mostly built of combustible materials (fire departments usually can’t respond quickly in general crisis situations). Nor if your elevation from an active water body, or low terrain point, is less than 15 feet. Identify what your weaknesses are, then develop a plan to reduce them or move to a safer home.
- Government regulations, where existing and enforced, focus on giving you enough time to get out of your home, not to save it. Don’t be pacified when told ‘Its built to code’ or ‘It has an occupancy permit’. If you want to save your center of wealth (for most people) and possessions, you generally have to be above the code.
- Relying on government to cover your losses is a road to poverty. Insurance helps, but still involves a lot of direct and indirect cost from your side. Plus some personal items are irreplaceable. The best insurance is making sure you’re not in a vulnerable home to start with.
- Don’t rely on flood defenses to protect you. Defenses have their limits, must be maintained and quickly become outdated. Natural flood-safe land is the best place to be.
- Know which of the 4 major hazards affect your area and what their maximum levels are and compare that to the strength of the home you’re already in, or looking to move into. This documentary offers you many ideas on what people are doing. For more help, check the resource section of this website.
- Set your priorities right. Its better to be in a stronger and less vulnerable home, than one that is bigger, fancier or is filled with more ‘things’. If you lose your home, all the latter won’t have meant much. Before you remodel your bathroom, kitchen or do anything ‘cosmetic’, think of using that money to strengthen your home first. It will be your best investment.
- Become a ‘resilient-smart’ consumer; someone who looks at land from a vulnerability perspective; who investigates what is behind the walls and cosmetic surfaces. Focus on the quality of resilience substance, rather than cosmetic appearances that the property industry typically divert you towards.