How can I prepare my house for a tornado? | homify

How can I prepare my house for a tornado?

Kayla Gulec Kayla Gulec
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Unfortunately, our world subjects us to many things that hurt us, our loved ones, and our environment. One of the things the natural world subjects us to more often than we would like to acknowledge are natural disasters. Natural disasters like hurricanes, blizzards, floods, and earthquakes not only destroy almost everything in their paths and leave little behind, but they also take a great emotional toll on us. 

One of the most ruthless natural disasters out there is the tornado. Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of wind that are unstoppable and incredibly frightening to live through. But with the right preparation, you can find safety and solace. 

Just how can we prepare ourselves for such disasters? Well, we need to become storm aware, and that is exactly why we here at homify have created this Ideabook – to give you a little insight on some of the best ways to prepare your home and your family for the unexpected.

Reinforced concrete

We can not change where tornados strike, but we can change the way we build our homes so that we can better protect ourselves. Houses built with reinforced concrete can survive much greater catastrophes than houses made from wood. Insulating Concrete Form walls can withstand flying debris from tornados and hurricanes and are much more wind resistant than traditional wood or steel walls. That means that when a tornado ravages your area, you have a fighting chance to survive within the concrete walls, your house's structure will still be standing, and the items inside your home have a chance for survival as well. 

Concrete housing structures have been put to the test in many universities and laboratory settings to ensure that it is indeed a safer and better structural design for people living in tornado prone areas, and thanks to these tests, we now know that these homes can withstand an EF4 class tornado.

If you're looking for concrete inspiration, check out this concrete home!

Build a shelter underneath your home

Basements are great places to take refuge during a tornado, so in order to prepare your home, you will want to make sure you build a basement shelter with a sturdy door. Make sure that you know where your heavy objects rest on the floor above you, as well. If you have something large in your home, like a piano, or even the refrigerator or a heavy bed, you do not want to position yourself under these items in the basement, as tornadoes can rip up floors and these objects may fall on top of you through the weakened floor.

Even if you have not built a basement sanctuary specifically designed for tornado survival, you can still seek refuge in a basement that already exists. You do have to position yourself under some kind of sturdy protection – like a heavy table or a work bench – in order to protect yourself from any falling knick-knacks in the room. Even something as simple as a mattress can help to shield you from falling objects. 

Fix shelves to the walls

During a tornado, everything gets thrown around and your house takes a real beating. Fixing your shelves to the walls will ensure that they don't fall down during the storm. The items on the shelves will almost certainly fall, but when you have reinforced, thick, sturdy shelves like the ones you see in this image, you won't have to worry about the shelves themselves being thrown around, and that is one less thing that could potentially hurt you or your loved ones. 

Fixing shelves to the walls also makes clean up after the storm much easier to deal with, as not as many things in your home will have been dislodged and thrown about. You can still maintain a sense of normalcy when rebuilding. 

Install double layered windows

If your windows can survive a 7 kilogram, 4 metre long chunk of debris – such as a housing component – flying horizontally like a missile at 160 kilometres per hour, then it gets any government's (as well as our) seal of approval for tornado protection. Strong, reinforced, double layered windows are an asset when you are trying to prepare your home for a tornado. 

Because glass is so easily breakable, ordinary windows get shattered almost instantly during this kind of storm. If you have reinforced windows, however, and a double layer of those, then you are sparing your home from a lot of flying debris and shattered glass that could injure you and your family. 

Do not plant trees

Tornadoes rip up everything in their path – from rocks, to lawn furniture, cars to animals, almost nothing can escape a tornado once it is on the move. That is exactly why if you live in a tornado prone area, that you should never plant trees around your property. Most of the damage caused by tornadoes does not come from the raging wind tunnel itself, but rather from the debris that these wind tunnels carry. 

When a tornado picks up a tree in its path, it can carry the tree in its rotating column, destroying everything else the tornado comes into contact with, or it can fling the tree immediately from its grasp and throw it at your home or another standing structure. If you avoid planting trees around your home, the risk of damaging your home lessens dramatically.

Store your car in the garage

As we have mentioned, the real damage that comes from tornadoes is not from the strong winds themselves, but rather from the flying debris that the whirlwind tunnel picks up and throws around. Even something as heavy as a car is no match for a high raging tornado, which is why you want to make sure your car is stowed away in a garage, if you have one. That way, there is less of a chance that the tornado – depending on its severity – can pick it up and throw it against your home. 

The damage from flying trees is one thing, but the damage your house can succumb to from a car is far worse. First of all, cars can be heavier than trees, and secondly, cars break apart more than trees do, so it wouldn't just be one blow to your home, but quite a few, as the car will dismantle and there will be more items that will destroy your property. Fortifying your garage door will also lessen the chances of your car being torn from within the garage.

Above all, don't panic or worry. Thankfully, the chances of most of us getting caught up in a tornado are pretty slim. The most we can do is stay vigilant, be prepared, but above all remain calm!

For more advice on protecting your home, check out this Ideabook on how to make your house more secure!

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Will you be tornado-proofing your home? We'd love to hear about the process in the comments section below!
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