If you live in an area of the United States prone to tornadoes, you know not to mess around when the sirens go off. It’s time to seek shelter! Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year, of course, but Massachusetts is most likely to see one during July and August. Images of the destruction caused can tend to make us think we are totally at the mercy of the storm. However, there are ways to prepare your home for tornado season ahead of time.
Granted, the tornado risk in Massachusetts isn’t as high as in other parts of the country, but they happen. Conversely, though, Climate Central reported that beginning in 1979, the tornado risk is reaching farther east of the area typically known as Tornado Alley.
Even if your home isn’t directly in the tornado’s path, the winds that accompany such a severe storm can be ferocious! There are things you can do to strengthen your home to better withstand foul weather.
We all know that an interior room is where to go if your home has no basement. Bathrooms with no windows may be your best bet. If you have a half bath in the interior of your home, you should go there. Because the room is small, the framing provides a concentrated amount of lumber to support the walls. It provides added protection.
Adding a safe room to your home is another option. FEMA has a set of guidelines that include design drawings. You should check them out if you’re considering this safety precaution.
The sound of breaking glass means trouble! Glass and debris flying about your home puts your family in peril. Not to mention the fact that once winds reaching tornadic force enter your home, you could blow your top!
The winds rush in and instantly look for an escape route. Our homes aren’t airtight. Rushing upward to the attic, they push relentlessly into every nook and cranny. Pressure builds as the winds continue to race upward and are then blocked as it squeezes its way through the cracks. This, coupled with the force of nature beating mercilessly against your home from the outside, can rip your roof from your home!
There are several ways to strengthen your homes structural integrity to hold high winds at bay.
Impact windows go a long way in home protection! Built to withstand the force of a 6-foot, 9-pound 2×4 slamming against it after being fired from a cannon, these windows are nothing short of amazing! Not only do they protect your home from the force of wind-borne debris, but home invasion will also be less of a concern as well! Intruders consider our windows to be the easiest point of access, when a sound thud meets their ear rather than the crash of shattering glass, odds are they’ll be hitting the road!
Moreover, impact windows are rated for energy efficiency. Technically, they’ll eventually pay for themselves from the savings you’ll see on your utility bill. Noise reduction and UV protection are added benefits as well.
Storm shutters provide ample window protection, but if the storm hits in the night or while you’re away from home, odds are they won’t be deployed.
We mentioned the roof already, but we didn’t let you know that there are ways to reinforce it. Roof straps, often called hurricane straps, attach to trusses and rafters, then, to the top of the exterior wall plate. They are best installed when a home is under construction, however, an experienced contractor can get the job done after the fact.
Bracing your roof is an inexpensive safety measure. So is construction adhesive! According to This Old House, running a thick bead of adhesive down the edge on both sides of the rafter nearly triples a roof’s protection against the wind.
Wind resistant garage doors are on the market; however, you can purchase a bracing kit that is easy enough for most DIY’ers to handle. Brackets attach above the door and metal posts slip in and latch into place in an instant when needed.
Garage doors cover a large area but aren’t known for their strength factor. High winds packing debris often bust right through them. Once the wind has such ample access to your home, the odds of serious damage dramatically increase.
Beefing up your exterior doors with the bracket and metal rod method is certainly an option. Another is to install three hinges on the doors rather than two. This, plus a deadbolt lock that is an inch long at the minimum provides serious protection.
It’s a good idea to make sure your insurance is up to date as a “just in case” measure. Also, though, some, if not all, the safety features listed above may mean a reduction in your premiums. You should check with your agent.
Updating your home’s content list is a wise idea. You can store it in the cloud or if it’s a hard copy, keeping it somewhere other than in your home should be the plan. Don’t forget to include pictures if possible.
Trim your trees
We don’t think about the danger factor our trees carry until the winds are whipping them into a frenzy. If you prune or thin the canopy, the wind will pass through more easily. They are less likely to be pushed over. Moreover, remove branches directly over your home and any that show signs of weakness need to come down too.
Bringing it home
We all know the reason the saying “home is where the heart is” originated.
Our family’s well-being is paramount. A home is both our sanctuary and fortress. Resolving to do all we can to ensure that truly makes good sense.
We hope you and your loved ones never find yourselves in the path of a tornado. Frankly, your odds are pretty good that will be the case. However, taking precautions to strengthen your home’s defense against a sudden onslaught provides peace of mind for years to come.
Michelle Williams believes construction is in her DNA. She spent many happy summers on the job site alongside her dad. As time passed, writing became her first love. However, she doesn’t hesitate to strap on the tool belt and tackle a project on the side. Her kids love the playhouse!