February, 2009
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Disaster Inspections


The disaster inspection section has been updated on the Members Only Web site.

You’ll find information on how to become a disaster inspector for FEMA on the ASHI Web site. Based on current statistics, more disaster inspectors will be needed, but home inspectors also may be able to alert homeowners to weather-related risks and help them prepare for them.

The time to prepare for disasters is before they occur

As weather statistics for 2008 are recorded, it’s on track to be one of the 10 warmest years on record for the globe, based on the combined average of worldwide land and ocean surface temperatures, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. For November alone, the month is the fourth warmest all-time globally for the combined land and ocean surface temperature. The early assessment is based on records dating back to 1880.


The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season was the third most costly on record in current dollars, after 2005 and 2004, and the fourth most active year since 1944. This was the first season with a major hurricane (Category 3 or above) each month from July through November.


The United States recorded a preliminary total of just fewer than 1,700 tornadoes from January-November. This ranks 2008 second behind 2004 for the most tornadoes in a year, since reliable records began in 1953. They can occur any time of the year — late winter through midsummer. Peak periods shift northward, starting in the Gulf Coast progressing to the Midwest. The city hit by the most tornadoes: Oklahoma City. Everything you want to know about Tornadoes can be found at www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/


Flooding is America’s most common natural disaster.

People think of hurricanes as windstorms, but they also cause major flooding, sometimes hundreds of miles inland. Tropical storms, because they are slow-moving, can bring intense, lasting rains that over-saturate the ground and cause water buildup in low-lying areas.

FloodSmart.gov is the official site of the NFIP. Find directions on how to safeguard a home on this site and share the information with your customers.

Drought and wildfires go hand in hand

Persistent severe-to-exceptional drought plagued portions of south central Texas and the Southeast U.S. in 2008. Based on the Palmer Drought Index, the 2008 percent area of the contiguous United States experiencing moderate-extreme drought peaked at 31 percent in June-July.

NOAA began reporting large incidents of fire activity on March 28, 2008, and continued to list current large blazes through the following November. In addition to large blazes, NOAA reported the presence of high danger due to the persistence of drought conditions in some regions. Fire danger alerts were based on the U.S. Forest Service Experimental Fire Potential Index for the following areas:

Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Missouri, Georgia, most notably California, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee,  Washington state, Florida, Nevada, Alaska, West Virginia, Louisiana, Nebraska, Texas and New Mexico.

Fire Hazard Assessment in the Wildland/Urban Interface

Living adjacent to a wildland offers spectacular scenery and feelings of serenity. Unfortunately, homes built in wildland/urban interfaces are extremely vulnerable to forest and wildfires. Yet, individuals and developers continue to build in these areas without giving a second thought to how their homes will fare should a wildfire occur.

The National Wildland/Urban Interface Fire Protection Program Web site was developed to educate homeowners and developers about the wildfire problem and to show them simple steps they can take to make homes built in the wildland safer and more likely to survive a wildfire.

Potential hazards are discussed in-depth. In addition, you can assess the potential of a home or subdivision to survive a wildfire by filling out the Wildfire Analysis Form.

Source: www.firewise.org/resources/homeowner.htm#

Source: NOAA is the federal government’s official source for climate data. www.weather.gov/

ASHI would welcome articles from members who have expertise in building techniques designed to protect homes during weather-related disasters.

Contact Sandy Bourseau, sandyb@ashi.org or 847-954-3179.