Only a few specialty buildings are designed to withstand the direct impact of a strong tornado, but good construction choices can increase the likelihood that at least part of a home will remain standing to provide some shelter. Strengthened homes near the storm’s edge would have a good chance of surviving intact or with minor cosmetic damage.
Tampa, FL (Vocus) February 11, 2009
Tornadoes are a grim reminder of nature’s power and unpredictability. While such destructive storms were once unexpected in winter, some of the fiercest outbreaks in recent years occurred during January, February and March, as evidenced by yesterday’s deadly storms in Oklahoma.
A tornado can occur at any time of the day or year somewhere in the U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). While activity spikes between March and August, and tornado "season" slows down in the fall, it doesn’t really end.
According to Dr. Tim Reinhold, senior vice president of research and chief engineer at the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), “Only a few specialty buildings are designed to withstand the direct impact of a strong tornado, but good construction choices can increase the likelihood that at least part of a home will remain standing to provide some shelter. Strengthened homes near the storm’s edge would have a good chance of surviving intact or with minor cosmetic damage.”
IBHS recommends the following property protection measures to help prepare for tornadoes or other disasters and organize important information to speed recovery if necessary.
- When building, renovating or reroofing have the contractor make sure straps connect the roof to the walls, and when possible, connect the walls to the foundation. This type of continuous load path that ties the building together and anchors it to the foundation is commonplace in hurricane-prone areas but would also increase protection from severe windstorms such as tornadoes.
- Consider installing a safe room in high risk areas; FEMA and the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) offer guidelines.
- Identify a small interior room with no windows for shelter when a tornado threatens.
- Prepare an emergency kit and store it in that space.
- Conduct a home inventory (http://www.knowyourstuff.org).
- Create a business continuity plan (http://www.disastersafety.org/OFB_Training/).
- Purchase portable NOAA Weather Radios to use during outdoor activities, as well as in homes and offices.
More information about disaster-resistant construction and increased protection from all hazards is available on the IBHS Web site http://www.DisasterSafety.org.
IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.