The U.S. is having one of its deadliest tornado years in a decade, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Tornadoes in 2020 have claimed 73 lives as of April 24, per NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center.

When you combine this news with the 6.5 magnitude earthquake that struck Idaho and 5.7 magnitude earthquake that hit Utah in March, it feels we’re living the start of a disaster movie.  

But when it comes to reducing the impact of natural disasters, mitigation improves safety, prevents property loss and keeps disruption to a minimum, according a report by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS).

The Natural Hazards Mitigation Saves 2019 Report represents the most comprehensive benefit-cost analysis of natural hazard mitigation, from adopting up-to-date building codes and exceeding codes to the upgrade of utility and transportation infrastructure.

“While COVID-19 presents our nation with unprecedented challenges, natural disasters are continuing,” said Lakisha A. Woods, CAE, president and CEO of NIBS, in a news release. “Millions of Americans are exposed to these disasters. Mitigation is a crucial step to keeping our homes, businesses, and communities safe.” 

Plumbing and mechanical engineers have a responsibility to not only design safe and energy-efficient buildings, but to educate building owners and managers on the best ways to strengthen existing buildings and bring them up to code. They can also ensure designs for emergency situations are top notch. 

For example, fire sprinkler system product selection and design must be first-rate in case of fire. 

Though the NFPA announced it has cancelled the 2020 NFPA Conference & Expo, you can read about the latest firestopping methods and best practices and more in our special Fire Protection & Design section, starting on Page 29. 

And while COVID-19 may not be considered a natural disaster, the global pandemic presents its own challenges to plumbing professionals. Check out Dave Yates’ latest column on Legionella and COVID-19 on Page 20. 

The plumbing industry’s duty to protect the health and safety of the nation keeps growing broader — beyond the traditional hazards of fire, water pathogens and other typical issues — especially as new threats like COVID-19 continue to emerge and leave lasting impacts on the world.