Asbestos is a cancer-causing mineral that used to be used to make some building products used in the home, like insulation. It is sometimes found in older homes. It can be toxic to people when they inhale or ingest it. To learn more about asbestos and how to protect people in your home from exposure, visit the EPA website. Additional source:

Average annual loss (AAL)

The expected financial loss from a natural hazard, averaged over a large number of years. Loss will not occur every year and many years will have no losses, but years with significant hazard events will result in more significant damage and/or loss.


BRIC (Baseline Resilience Indicators for Communities) measures the social characteristics that affect your community's capacity to rebound from and adapt to disasters. For details on how it is calculated, see: (

Building Code

Residential building codes specify minimum standards for the construction of buildings. Every jurisdiction and/or state adopts their own residential building code. Building codes are critical to force developers and builders to incorporate minimum safety standards that make your home more hazard-resilient. Minimum model regulations for one- and two-family dwellings and townhomes were first developed in 2005 by the International Residential Code (IRC) and are revised on a 3-year cycle. The IRC is known for incorporating minimum safety standards such as elevating homes (freeboard). It is up to a local jurisdiction to adopt (or modify) the model regulations proposed by the IRC.

Census block

Census tracts are small, relatively permanent geographic areas within counties or parishes that are used to gather and analyze place-based data. Generally, census tracts have between 2,500 and 8,000 residents and boundaries that follow visible features, but their size can vary depending on population density of the area. When first established, census tracts are to be as homogeneous as possible with respect to population characteristics, economic status, and living conditions.

Climate Change Scenario

Scientists have observed past mean sea level changes using water level measurements mainly from tide gauges and satellite altimeters, and these changes are expected to continue. Future projections of mean sea level are obtained from global physical models that account for different scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions. A "high climate change scenario" assumes higher emissions leading to more warming and higher mean sea level rise, while a "moderate climate change scenario" assumes lower emissions and less mean sea level rise.

Community Rating System (CRS)

The Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary program that rewards communities that take part in the National Flood Insurance Program which implement strong floodplain management activities. Participation gives community residents reduced flood insurance premiums.

Community Rating System (CRS) Users Groups

CRS Users Groups are made up of floodplain managers, permit officials, building officials, engineers, planners, etc. who implement CRS programs for their communities.

Complex roof

Complex roofs may be, by definition, more complex than standard gable roofs, but that makes a building more interesting and possibly worth more than other buildings with less complex roofs.

Environmental vulnerability

Measures how difficult it is for an ecosystem to "bounce back" from stress, such as that caused by a hazard.


EVI (Environmental Vulnerability Index) the capacity of the natural ecosystems in your area to recover from a disaster. For details on how it is calculated, see: (

FEMA Flood Zone

The FEMA Flood Zone, or more accurately called the Special Flood Hazard Zone, is an area that is at risk from special flood, mudflow or flood-related erosion hazards and shown on a Flood Hazard Boundary Map (FHBM) or a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) Zone A, AO, A1-A30, AE, A99, AH, AR, AR/A, AR/AE, AR/AH, AR/AO, AR/A1-A30, V1-V30, VE or V. The SFHA is the area where the National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP's) floodplain management regulations must be enforced and the area where the mandatory purchase of flood insurance applies. For the purpose of determining Community Rating System (CRS) premium discounts, all AR and A99 zones are treated as non-SFHAs.


Flooding is a temporary overflow of water onto land that is normally dry. There are several types of floods, including flash floods, coastal flooding, and storm surge.

Gable roof

A roof with two sloping sides and a gable (vertical wall) at each end.


Hail is a form of solid precipitation that consists of balls or irregular lumps of ice, each of which is called a hailstone.

HazardReadyBETA Score

The HazardReadyBETA Score helps you identify more hazard resilient homes. The score ranges between 0 and 100. The more hazard resilient the home and its surrounding area, the higher the score. The score takes into consideration a census block's community resilience, its social and environmental vulnerability, expected average annual hazard losses based on past events, as well as the building code in place at time of construction.

Hip roof

A type of roof where all sides slope downwards to the walls, usually with a fairly gentle slope. Thus, a hipped roof house has no gables or other vertical sides to the roof.


FORTIFIED Roof was specifically designed to prevent damage that commonly occurs during high winds, hurricanes, hailstorms, severe thunderstorms, and even tornadoes up to EF-2.


Karst is an area of land made up of limestone. Limestone areas are susceptible to sinkholes.


Lead is a material that can be a health hazard to humans when they are exposed to unsafe levels. Lead is an important hazard risk for older homes and buildings. For example, homes built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint. To learn more about lead and how to protect people in your home from exposure, visit the EPA website.


An electric discharge between the atmosphere and the ground that can result in explosions, fires, and injuries to people. Lightning can strike a long distance from the nearest storm.


Hazard mitigation reduces disaster damages and is defined as sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk. Source: FEMA

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), enables homeowners, business owners and renters in participating communities to purchase federally backed flood insurance. Source: Additional resource: FEMA Flood Insurance

Natural hazard

A natural phenomenon that has negative effects on humans and other animals, or the environment (e.g., hurricanes, flooding, extreme heat). The effects of natural hazards can be made better or worse through our planning and actions.


Measures how easy it is for something (e.g., a community, a building, or a family) to "bounce back" from stress, such as that caused by a hazard.


The chance or probability that a person, building, or community will be harmed if exposed to a hazard.

Sea level rise

Sea level rise is an increase in the level of the world's oceans due to climate change. Sea level rise poses a serious threat to coastal populations since higher water means that storm surges and waves can be larger and reach further inland.

Severe thunderstorm

Storms that are capable of producing hail that is an inch or larger or wind gusts over 58 mph. Hail this size can damage property such as plants, roofs and vehicles. Winds this strong may break off large branches, knock over trees or cause structural damage to trees. Source:

Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI)

SoVI (the Social Vulnerability Index) measures the capacity of households to prepare for and recover from a disaster. For details on how it is calculated, see: (

Split-Level Home

A split-level home is a style of house in which the floor levels are staggered. For example, two short sets of stairs come off the main floor - one running upward to a bedroom level, and one going downward toward a basement area.

Statistical probability

Measures the likelihood that something will happen (e.g., the chance that a hazard will occur).

Storm shutters

Metal, wood, or plastic window coverings that help prevent windows from being broken by flying objects during a storm.

Storm surge

Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water level when water is pushed toward the shore by storm winds.


A tornado is a violently rotating column of air, in contact with the ground, often (but not always) visible as a funnel cloud. It can destroy buildings that are in its path, especially when it is in contact with the ground.


Measures how difficult it is for a community, person, or ecosystem to "bounce back" from stress, such as that caused by a hazard.


A wildfire is an unplanned, unwanted, uncontrolled fire that starts in an area of combustible vegetation in rural and urban areas. Buildings in the path of a wildfire area are at risk of burning down.


"Wind" in HazardAware refers to non-hurricane and non-tornadic wind events, mostly thunderstorm winds. Strong enough wind can damage shingles, cause branches to fall on roofs, and cause debris to be picked up from the ground, damaging homes and injuring people.