Mitigation, or actions you take now to prevent loss in the future, is a crucial step in preparing your home and family before an emergency presents itself. You should ask youself, “What can we do to remove or reduce the risk so the responders don’t have to respond?”
To achieve this, you want to take any action that will be sustainable and will reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards and their effects. These actions should apply tried and true strategies and building practices. Instead of returning a building to it pre-disaster status, mitigation projects make them more resilient so you can save time and money in the long run. Mitigating away issues that may cause loss will save you from much of the disruption that can accompany a natural disaster.
A study by the Multihazard Mitigation Council, part of the National Institute of Building Sciences, shows that every $1 paid toward mitigation saves an average of $4 in future disaster-related costs.
Mitigation can be accomplished by way of structural or nonstructural provisions. Structural projects involve the construction or renovation of structures to physically control or remove hazards. These can become very expensive, visually obtrusive, maintenance-intensive, and falsely secure. Nonstructural projects involve changing behavior or land use to limit future losses. Examples of key mitigation activities include the following:
Ongoing public education and outreach activities designed to reduce loss of life and destruction of property;
Structural retrofitting to deter or lessen the effects of incidents and reduce loss of life, destruction of property, and effects on the environment;
Code enforcement through such activities as zoning regulation, land management, and building codes; and
Flood insurance and the buy-out of properties subjected to frequent flooding, etc (DHS, 2004).
Before you can begin to mitigate away hazards around your home, you must first identify what those hazards are. Tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, fires, major transit routes or nearby chemical plants may threaten your home, but you will have to determine and prioritize for your specific residence or place of business.
Next, determine what you can do now to reduce that risk. Against fires inside your home, for example, you can install smoke detectors, keep candles away from curtains, or put a screen in front of a fire place. If wild fires threaten you, you may want to reduce the amount of underbrush that is on your property around your home.
Flood insurance is another way to mitigate against rising water, because home owners insurance policies do not normally cover this type of situation. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a federal program, and the only one that regularly covers against loss because of floods. Paying into this insurance program will keep you from having to bear the full brunt of the loss if your home is damaged by flood waters.