Protection from Tornadoes

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Last year, more than 1,600 tornadoes were recorded in the U.S., resulting in the deaths of 550 people. In fact, if it were taken as a whole, the spring 2011 tornado season would rank as the fourth-costliest disaster for insured losses in U.S. history, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

“We cannot undo the tragic events of last year,” said Julie Rochman, president and CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, “but we can change future outcomes for the better by taking steps now to reduce losses and the level of catastrophic damage wrought by windstorms.”

According to IBHS engineers, only a few specialty buildings are designed to withstand the direct impact of a severe tornado in the EF-4/EF-5 range; however, these most intense tornadoes represent only about two percent of all tornadoes.

“Although, at some point, even the best engineering can be overwhelmed by natural forces and the laws of physics, homes and commercial building that have been strengthened in critical ways definitely can increase the likelihood that at least part of the structure will remain standing to provide some shelter and protection for people in harm’s way,” noted Rochman. “We can — and should — work to significantly narrow the path of losses when it comes to tornadoes. For example, by getting the roofs right, we could narrow the damage path from the broadest point, where we see relatively low wind speeds blowing off roof cover, blowing out gable ends, or where sections of roof are sheared off.”

Rochman added, if homes were built to the IBHS FORTIFIED® stronger, safer construction standard, “we could shift the EF scale up one step from a damageability perspective, largely eliminating EF-0 damage (roof cover), and significantly reducing EF-1 (roof decking, gable ends, porches) and EF-2 (roof partially or all gone) damage.”

Additionally, IBHS offers useful repair and rebuilding guidance on its web page, along with this guide: Before and After Tornadoes: Resources to Prepare Before and Rebuild After the Storm.

Specifically, information about the following topics is also available:

Bonded Builders News will continue to bring you guides from IBHS regarding building for storms. In June, we’ll cover preparing for and recovering from hurricanes.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety is an independent, nonprofit, scientific research and communications organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting building science research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparedness practices.

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