Tips for home buyers: potential for natural disasters

| 22 Feb 2012 | 01:23

    The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) offers advice on how to keep the American dream of homeownership from becoming a nightmare. Nearly seven out of 10 people own a home in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Homeownership Rates for the United States: 1968 to 2010.” When considering the purchase of a home, buyers typically research key area demographics such as the quality of schools, property tax rates, and crime rate. However, another critical aspect of homeownership - and the benefits or strains on that ownership experience - is the potential for natural disaster(s) native to the area. “Buying a home is typically the largest single investment people ever make,” said Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO. “While researching a neighborhood or town, it is absolutely critical for prospective homeowners to learn what natural disasters, such as wildfire, windstorms, hail, or flooding, may impact the area.” To help home buyers and homeowners identify and learn more about several types of natural disasters where they live or may want to live, the IBHS offers a ZIP code-based tool at The tool provides a list of the natural disaster(s) that may occur in that particular area. People who already own homes can use the information on to guide them in retrofitting their houses so that they are more resistant. Retrofits range from simple tasks (e.g., covering exterior hose bibs in the winter to prevent frozen/burst pipes) to more complex tasks (e.g., installing impact-resistant windows). offers guidelines on ways to increase a home’s resiliency against earthquake, flood, wildfire, hurricane, high winds, tornadoes, severe winter weather and hail. “No matter the type of natural threat, there are a number of ways - from simple and inexpensive to more complex and costly - that homeowners can make their homes stronger and safer,” Rochman said. “People need to know that they can do things to protect their home and family against damaging and potentially deadly effects of a natural disaster.