Building safety is one of those things we rarely think about but constantly rely on every day. From the fire alarms in our offices to the walls in our homes, structures built right keep us safe as we live, work, and play.

With this in mind, the City’s Licenses and Inspections Department (L&I) observes Building Safety Month each May.

Being mindful of building safety isn’t just for contractors or builders, either!

Here are five ways you can make building safety a priority this month in your own life.

  1. Hire licensed contractors and insist that they get the proper permits. You can find licensed contractors on L&I’s directory online. Are you a DIY type? Don’t forget to get permits if they are required. L&I inspects permitted building projects to make sure that they are being constructed safely.  Begin with L&I’s “Start Right” guide to find out if you need a permit — and how to move forward if you do need one! The Commerce Department also has some helpful information for businesses.
  2. Keep working smoke detectors in your home. Smoke detectors save lives but only if they’re working. Check to make sure the smoke detectors in your home work. If you live in Philadelphia and cannot afford a smoke detector, let Philly 311 know by calling 3-1-1.  The Philadelphia Fire Department will provide and install one for you for free!
  3. Always be aware of buildings you’re entering or meeting in. Are you going to a public meeting of a community group, worshiping in a new place, or attending a concert? When you enter, take a good look and be sure to locate the exits immediately. Does the building appear to be overcrowded? Are there heat sources, like candles, heaters, or cigarettes burning, that make you feel unsafe? Ask the management for clarification if you’re concerned. If you do not feel safe, leave immediately. You can also report dangerous buildings to L&I by calling 3-1-1. Always report emergency situations to 9-1-1.
  4. Report buildings that concern you to Philly 311. Keeping Philadelphia running safely is a team effort, and along with its team of inspectors, L&I welcomes the public’s help, too! If you see a building that looks dangerous, please report it by dialing 3-1-1.
  5. During an emergency, react immediately. Get out and stay out. If some sort of disturbance happens or a fire alarm is going off, immediately leave a building in a calm, orderly, but quick way. Treat fire alarms as emergencies every time. Once you’re out of the building, stay out and let emergency personnel conduct emergency operations.

Along with these tips and the “Start Right” guide, L&I will be on hand this Building Safety Month to answer questions and offer services in person at the Oregon Avenue Home Depot!

On May 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23 and 24  from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., visit the home supplier at 2200 Oregon Avenue to submit permit applications and plans, get forms and information, or report dangerous buildings. You can also ask questions about how to follow the codes, problems you’ve reported to 311, or anything you’d like to know about L&I services.

L&I will also issue some licenses and permits while you wait at the pop-up services counter at Home Depot. As always, if you have a question about L&I services, contact 3-1-1! We’re here to serve you.

Have a question about City services or L&I? Contact Philly 311 on Twitter or by dialing 3-1-1!