Bracing Your Home for Extreme Weather
An approaching tornado or hurricane is terrifying. Life, limb, and property are all at risk in these extreme weather events. What steps can you take to minimize damage to your home and remain safe?
Extreme Weather: Tornadoes
Surprisingly, much of the damage that tornadoes cause comes from flying debris, not just the direct impact of the wind. Limbs, uprooted trees, lawn furniture, even cars and appliances flying into houses wreak terrible damage.
Your home will not escape unscathed from a close encounter with a tornado, but consider these steps to minimize damage and make the aftermath of extreme weather more bearable.
When severe storms are forecast, bring lawn furniture, barbeque grills and other outdoor items inside.
Wind breaking through windows and doors could provide the lift and pressure to tear your home apart. If you live in a tornado- or hurricane-prone area, consider investing in new windows and doors. A typical garage door is not very strong, but you can replace yours with an impact- or wind-resistant model for $750 to $1,200. Other replacement exterior doors cost about $1,900. Windows with impact-resistant glass run about $600 each. If a replacement is out of reach, then make exterior doors more secure by installing deadbolt locks and using four-inch screws to reinforce the door frames into the studs behind them.
Metal braces known as hurricane strapping fortify the connection between roof joists and the top plate board of a house’s walls. It is easiest to build them into a new home, but retrofitting may be possible. Your roof shingles may still get blown off, but strapping may help keep all or most of the roof framing intact.
The most important measure you can take against tornadoes is the construction of a safe room inside your home. A safe room may be the only part of a house left standing after a powerful tornado. Reinforce the walls of an interior closet or bathroom with steel studs or stout lumber, or build a new space with steel or concrete block walls and a heavy-duty door.
Keep on hand a supply of packaged food, bottled water, portable rechargers, flashlights, radios and perhaps a generator to make life easier in the days after the storm.
Extreme Weather: Hurricanes
Usually, coastal residents have several days of warning to prep for a hurricane. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, it is best to keep certain basic provisions on hand all the time to avoid the mad rush on stores when extreme weather threatens. Here are some steps to take to protect your home.
Hurricane straps, as mentioned above, are metal braces that help homes withstand high winds by more solidly attaching a building’s roof joists to the top plate beam of the walls. In hurricane-prone areas, building codes usually require hurricane straps along with wind- or impact-resistant windows and doors. If you don’t already have hurricane straps, get them.
Keep on hand three-quarter-inch thick plywood sheets, already cut to the size of your windows, to be screwed onto your window frames from the outside.
Have your roof inspected before hurricane season each year, and keep gutters clean. Keep large limbs trimmed back from your house, especially those that hang over your roof.
Water is the biggest threat with a hurricane. Torrential rains can drop 20 inches or more of rainfall in a day. Even worse for coastal residents is the storm surge: the wall of seawater that rushes onto shore when the hurricane makes landfall. To help protect your home from flooding, keep a supply of empty sandbags on hand. With sufficient advance warning of extreme weather, you can order a load of sand, fill the bags and build a perimeter barrier around your house to help hold water back.
Related – What to Do After Your Home Floods