We’re all aware of the latest natural disaster to wreak havoc upon this nation, via this past week’s slew of tornados throughout some of the southern states. A still unfolding tragedy, this period of nature’s fury caused over three hundred deaths, according to news reports. There seems to be no end of sites offering terrifying video clips of one tornado after another ripping through one community after another. Peoples lives, and their livelihoods wiped out in a matter of seconds, and all we can do is sit and stare at a screen, oohing and aahing over the destruction that no Hollywood film could recreate.
Tornados are a way of life, or rather a part of life, for many people in this country. Moreover, tornados occur in other nations as well, so it is not as if Alabama has been singled out for this particular form of judgment. We even have them up here in Maine, so they can, and do occur at any time, and in any place, and with little to no warning. Remember that in your preparedness planning.
My general advice is “why do you live in a place where you know you have a large probability of being slammed?” The answer is of course that there is usually little to no option. So you do the best you can to ride out the storm, and hope that the damage is never greater than you can bear. Unfortunately, all too often that happens to be the outcome.
What are some of the things you should be doing as a prepper to prepare for a tornado? If you live in a conventional home, you should, as a first step, consider building a safe room in your home. FEMA says this about safe rooms;
Preparing a Safe Room
Extreme windstorms in many parts of the country pose a serious threat to buildings and their occupants. Your residence may be built “to code,” but that does not mean it can withstand winds from extreme events such as tornadoes and major hurricanes. The purpose of a safe room or a wind shelter is to provide a space where you and your family can seek refuge that provides a high level of protection. You can build a safe room in one of several places in your home.
- Your basement.
- Atop a concrete slab-on-grade foundation or garage floor.
- An interior room on the first floor.
Safe rooms built below ground level provide the greatest protection, but a safe room built in a first-floor interior room also can provide the necessary protection. Below-ground safe rooms must be designed to avoid accumulating water during the heavy rains that often accompany severe windstorms.
- To protect its occupants, a safe room must be built to withstand high winds and flying debris, even if the rest of the residence is severely damaged or destroyed. Consider the following when building a safe room:
- The safe room must be adequately anchored to resist overturning and uplift.
- The walls, ceiling, and door of the shelter must withstand wind pressure and resist penetration by windborne objects and falling debris.
- The connections between all parts of the safe room must be strong enough to resist the wind.
- Sections of either interior or exterior residence walls that are used as walls of the safe room, must be separated from the structure of the residence so that damage to the residence will not cause damage to the safe room.
Farming communities of old utilized root cellars when a severe storm approached, and if possible you should look into that potential source of protection as well. However, many current zoning laws in the larger population centers prohibit this sort of a shelter for many reasons.
If you are in a position to build a new home, concrete dome homes are said to be more than worthy of withstanding virtually any tornado or wind storm, even hurricanes. Building your home below ground can also eliminate much of the destruction caused by tornados. Any type of construction that eliminates the possibility of wind catching, or buffeting a structure will lessen its impact.
It is funny that many people refer to mobile home parks as disaster magnets, and the news outlets show clip after clip of the destruction seen in these types of settlements after a tornado hits, but we still fail to see why the destruction seems to be so much greater than it is elsewhere. Part of the reason lies in the construction and installation of these homes, and part lies simply in their location.
Mobile homes are poorly made to begin with, in spite of the advancement in quality over the years. Built like a box of Saltine crackers, they have absolutely zero tolerance for wind of any sort. Coupled with the fact that they are simply placed upon a concrete pad, with an air space underneath, you have a prime example of a piece of litter waiting to be blown across the parking lot in the breeze. I’m sure you’ve seen a box, bottle or bag being blown about before. Just picture a mobile home in the same place and you can see why they become prime targets for wind damage.
Not only that, mobile home parks are usually built on no longer used farmland, which means that the wind has no natural break to lessen its impact when it reached these cleared out patches of land, and also allows an unfettered opportunity for wind to increase its power.
If you must live in a tornado prone area, please make sure you plan accordingly, and try to live in a shelter that has been specifically built to eliminate wind damage.
And after the fact, make sure you keep on keeping on, learning from the experience. FEMA has a 12-page brochure called Recovering from Disaster that you can download here.