Taking shortcuts with building safety measures often leads to disastrous consequences.

Taking shortcuts with building safety measures often leads to disastrous consequences.

That's why it is incumbent on local code officials to catch problems before they turn into bigger ones down the line.

That's the message Pickerington officials are trying to impart this month of May, which has been designated as Building Safety Month.

City Development Services Director Joe Henderson said ensuring a building is safe should be everybody's concern.

"I don't know if the general public is aware of all that goes on into making buildings safe," Henderson said.

He said the first line of defense is the code officials and inspectors, otherwise known as "the unknown guardians of public safety" whose job it is to enforce building codes.

Other guardians include architects, engineers, builders, laborers and anyone else in the construction industry involved in the building process.

Henderson said it is vitally important that modern building codes be followed and enforced "for public safety."

To that end, Pickerington Mayor Lee Gray presented a proclamation at the May 6 City Council meeting for Building Safety Month.

Gray said the theme for Building Safety Month 2014 is "Maximizing Resilience, Minimizing Risks."

"(It) encourages all Americans to raise awareness of the importance of building safety, fire prevention, disaster mitigation, backyard safety, energy efficiency and new technologies in the construction industry," said Gray in reciting the proclamation.

Pickerington's Chief Building Official Leonard Lewis said the city's building codes must keep pace with technological advances.

He said new building materials or techniques are constantly being introduced to save money or to help energy efficiency.

"The (residential) code must be revised every three years to examine these new products and procedures in order to maintain the level of safety we expect and deserve," Lewis said.

He said building codes keep residents safe because they mandate certain safeguards are in place in the home setting as well.

For example, building codes require smoke detectors in each bedroom and on each level of homes including basements to warn occupants of smoke and fire.

The codes also address the sizing and spacing of balusters and handrails to prevent children from falling and requires bedrooms to have at least one emergency escape to the outside.

Other measures in place include ground fault protected outlets and arc fault protected circuits, which are required in bedrooms and, as of 2009, in most other residential rooms, too.

Building codes also require anti-scalding or mixing valves in the shower to prevent burn injury.

"These are just a few ways the building codes help keep us safe in our homes," said Lewis.

On a side note, Lewis urged residents to change the batteries in smoke detectors on a regular basis.

For more information on home safety and energy-saving tips, go to www.buildingsafetymonth.org.