Building codes establish the minimum construction standards necessary to ensure the safety of those who live, work, and exist inside of a property. In a recent Scientific American article titled “Most States Are Failing on Building Codes, FEMA Says.” Author Thomas Frank stated that 39 states received the lowest score that the agency could give a zero out of 100, in regards to their building code—which included many of the most disaster prone states, such as Louisiana & Mississippi.

FEMA’s ratings and scores are determined by the percentage of communities in each state that adhere to the most recent building codes. Building code policies vary by each state, meaning some states may adopt a building code policy that automatically applies to every community and others may allow its municipalities to determine what codes are adopted.

The ratings don’t consider the community’s population, so they don’t necessarily reflect the percentage of a state’s residents who are exposed to hazards due to outdated building codes.

Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes stated “It’s really a dirty little secret that many communities that are highly prone to disasters don’t put the codes in place to prepare and protect the communities.”

In Disaster Smart’s headquarters state, Florida received a close to perfect score of 99.1% due to the state’s recent adoption of the most updated building codes, which must be followed by every county and municipality.

(FEMA did deduct nine-tenths of a percentage point because some flood-prone communities are not part of the agency’s flood insurance program.).


See how your state compares below:

Image of United states with Washington, California, Montana, Utah, New Mexico, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, South Carolia & Florida showing in the color green to indicate a higher resistance (75.0-100% score) to disasters. Nevada, Colorado, North Dakota, Texas, Iowa, Alabama, Maine, & Delaware are showing in the color gray to indicate a moderate resistance to disaster (25.0-74.9 % score) and the remaining states in red indicating a low resistance to disaster (0-24.9% score)..

Image credit: FEMA

The complete National Risk Index (technical documentation) can be found here:


If you want to know how strong the building code is for your property against natural disasters, you can check the current code in your local area here.

Remember, having a property that is built to FORTIFIED standards, can provide you with the assurance that the highest level of protection against severe weather, that goes beyond building codes is in place for you and your loved ones.

To find out more about the FORTIFIED™ program, contact us at +1888-964-8776 ext. 2.