Published April 18, 2012
Tornado season is already under way and hurricane season is just around the corner. With the record temperatures we’ve experienced already this winter and spring, the extreme weather season is shaping up to be particularly stormy – in fact, hundreds of twisters have already touched down across the country.
While we are often at the mercy of Mother Nature, there are some things you can do to protect yourself, and your home, from extreme weather.
NOAA Alert Radio
When the winds start blowing, make sure you’re not caught napping. A NOAA alert radio is one of the most important pieces of gear to keep you safe at home. When the National Weather Service detects severe weather in your area, a signal gets sent to the radio, triggering an alarm, so even if you’re slumbering through the storm, you won’t miss the warning to take cover.
Because a twister's winds are so severe, there’s not much you can do to completely tornado-proof your home. With winds capable of exceeding 250 mph, your home would have to be practically missile-proof to withstand a direct hit from a tornado. However, while you might not be able to keep your walls from caving in, you can build a shelter to keep you safe should a tornado come roaring up your street.
A prefabricated storm shelter is the easiest way to add a safe space to your home. These rooms can usually hold around four to six people and get buried in your yard or beneath your garage, offering a safe place to flee as the storm approaches. You might not be able to protect your home from the wind’s destructive force, but at least you can protect yourself.
When hurricane- or tornado-force winds come crashing in, your windows are probably your home’s weakest point. To protect themselves from flying glass, many homeowners slap up masking tape or duct tape on the windows, thinking this will help keep the glass intact. Unfortunately, a bit of tape on the windows is no match for airborne debris and winds in excess of 100 mph. To really protect your windows, and yourself from broken glass, you need to cover each window with storm shutters or plywood that is at least 3/4 of an inch thick.
While they can be a pricey upgrade, impact-resistant windows offer an added layer of protection. These windows boast a sturdier frame than traditional windows and the multi-layered glass is designed to stay intact even if the outer layer is struck and cracked by flying debris.
If a tornado or hurricane tears the roof off, it’s likely to be game over for your home. Once fully exposed to the wind and debris, the walls can collapse and the entire home can be reduced to a pile of rubble. However, you can strengthen the seal between your walls and roof with a layer of hurricane adhesive, a type of glue specially designed to prevent the roof from blowing off. Similarly, hurricane clips are another option. These simple metal braces will give your roof a little extra support, keeping it in place when the high winds hit.
When a major storm rips through your town, if can be days, or even weeks, before the power company gets the electricity flowing again. Without power, you can be left sweltering in the heat and cut off from all-important news updates
A portable gasoline-powered generator will provide power for a short amount of time, but to protect against longer blackouts, invest in a standby generator, which taps into your home’s natural gas line to provide maximum energy for as long as you need.
Protect Your Garage
Your garage door might seem tough, but that door can buckle in no time when heavy winds hit. However, a simple garage door brace can keep the door from caving in. By anchoring it to the wall and floor, the aluminum brace gives you an extra layer of support in the middle where the door is weakest.