How to Prepare Your House for a Tornado: 10 Crucial Steps
Tornadoes are terrifying weather events. They can appear out of nowhere, cause catastrophic damage, and have been known to level entire neighborhoods in a matter of minutes. The volatile and random nature of tornadoes can make them hard to prepare for, but there are steps you can take to make sure you are ready in case the worst happens.
Here are 10 crucial steps you can take to prepare your house for a tornado, including what to do before storm season, what to do during storm season, and what to do during an actual storm.
In this article we will cover the following preparations:
Before Tornado Season
Know when tornado season is in your particular location. The season will be different depending on your region. Some preparations should definitely be completed before tornado season ramps up.
1. Have Your Roof Inspected
Before a tornado strikes, you want to make sure that your roof is in good condition. Roofs are a critical part of the home and one of the parts that are most vulnerable in a tornado. Having your roof inspected for structural damage and shingle problems can help you address weak spots that could be a problem during a tornado. Loose shingles, weak sheathing, and gaps can let the wind in and cause tremendous damage during a storm. Roof work is not cheap, but it is a lot cheaper than replacing a house that was destroyed because the roof failed during a tornado.
2. Reinforce Your Garage Door
Garage doors are another weak part of a home’s structure. During high winds, garage doors are one of the first things to fail. If a garage door fails, it can let the wind into your garage. Too much wind or too much pressure variation can easily blow the roof off of a garage leading to catastrophic damage to your home. You can look into buying a reinforced garage door and replacing the whole unit. You can also look into having stabilizing brackets and braces installed on your existing door to give it a little more stability during high wind events.
3. Repair Any Damage to Your Home and Finish Projects
You do not want your house to be in the middle of a project or repair during storm season. Make sure that you have all of your repairs finished and all exterior projects buttoned up. Severe storms can bubble up in a matter of hours or even minutes. You do not want to have piles of nails, lumber, shingles, and tools lying around outside because they can easily become dangerous projectiles during a tornado.
During Tornado Season
Preparations during tornado season are all about being prepared and making sure that your property is ready for a tornado at any moment.
4. Keep Your Yard Free of Debris
During storm season, you want to generally keep your yard free of any debris. That means picking up firewood, loose branches, and lightweight objects. You also want to trim your trees before strong storms appear in the forecast. Branches, sticks, and small items can all be picked up and rake the exterior of your home, causing a ton of damage. To prevent this, you need to keep on top of loose items in your yard and around your home.
5. Ensure Your Emergency Kit Is Up to Date
Everyone that could potentially be in the path of a tornado should have a basic emergency kit. Emergency kits can sometimes be the difference between life and death during a dire situation. It doesn’t take long to put an emergency kit together. During the start of tornado season, check your kit to make sure that you have everything you need and that everything is stocked up and in working order.
6. Make Sure You Have a Tornado Shelter Area
Designate a tornado shelter area in your home and make sure that everyone knows where it is and how to get to it. Basements and cellars are the best areas to ride out a tornado. If you do not have a basement, you need to find an interior room away from any exterior doors and windows. Bathrooms are often good choices because they have minimal windows, and the walls are reinforced with piping. It is a good idea to keep your emergency kit in or near your tornado shelter area.
7. Secure Your Important Documents
If you are at the threat of experiencing severe weather that could damage your home, you should secure your important documents so they are not lost. The last thing you want is to discover that your birth certificate was sucked out into the storm and lost forever. That can be a nightmare. Keeping your documents in a heavy waterproof safe is the best way to protect them during inclement weather. You want to make sure that your documents will be difficult to get wet or blow away.
During Strong Storms
During a severe storm, timing is critical. Being able to prepare in a timely manner and keeping your eyes on the skies are vital to weathering the storm. You do not want to be surprised during a severe weather event.
8. Lock Your Doors
Locking your exterior doors can help stabilize them during severe weather. Use the deadbolts whenever possible. Throwing the deadbolt can help keep exterior doors in place. If exterior doors or windows fail, it can let in the worst of the weather, and that is when the most damage occurs.
9. Close Your Windows and Garage
Make sure all of your windows are closed if you are in the path of a severe storm. You also want to close your garage door. Lock all exterior garage doors as well and secure the door between your garage and your house. Secure all storm doors. You do not want any windows or doors flapping in the wind or letting bad weather into your house.
10. Stay Informed
Lastly, stay informed. Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. Know when you are most likely to experience a tornado. Keep up with local weather alerts, and do not ignore warnings about severe and potentially dangerous weather. Know what types of storms are ripe for tornado development. Know what seasons are most likely to spawn tornadoes. Keep an eye on powerful cold fronts, which often harbor severe weather. Being informed before a storm, during storm season, and during an actual storm can be invaluable.
Preparing your house for a tornado can be the difference between life and death. In some cases, tornadoes are so strong there is nothing you can really do about it. However, minimizing the risk to your house’s structure, your own life, and your surrounding property can help mitigate damage and injury. Being informed, staying prepared, and knowing what to do in the event of severe weather is imperative for anyone who lives in an area that gets tornadoes.
Featured Image Credit: Greg McGill, Shutterstock