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Weather Ready

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How to be prepared for severe weather

  • One of the best if not the best way to be prepared for severe weather is to have a NOAA Weather Radio. These radios are inexpensive and can be the matter between life and death, It gives off a warning like you would hear on your vehicles radio and it gives an automated voice that gives exact details on the hazards, Track and how fast the storm is moving. Also if your power goes out they can run off of batteries so you can have updates when the power is out.
  • Another source to get updates on severe weather is your local news stations; Local news often takes reports from storm spotters/chasers and pass them onto you. If there is tornado entering a populated area they can also show you live tower cam footage of the approaching tornado and they even have helicopters that bring you live footage from the air and track the tornado and provide the news station on its current position.
  • One key thing in being weather ready is ALWAYS have a plan. You don't want to find yourself scrambling for a place to hide at the last minute, Because in some occasions you don't get much warning. The safest place to be is in a basement, If you do not have a basement go to your bathroom lay in your tub and cover yourself with either a matress, Blankets, Pillows ext. NEVER wait until you can see the tornado, As soon as you hear the sirens put your plan into affect. Yes there are and will be more false alarms but in 2011 there where to many lives lost, An example of why you should take warnings seriously is Joplin, Missouri, Folks had so many false alarms before a lot of them did not take cover until it was to late this can not keep happening.
  • Tornadoes can occur anywhere at anytime if the conditions are right. Some rumors are out there that if you live in the mountains or near a lake that can prevent tornadoes from striking. This is FALSE tornadoes can and have traveled over mountains and have destroyed homes in the process. Samething with living by a lake waterspouts can and have come ashore and have done damage to towns even cities like Miami Florida.
  • What should you do when you find yourself face to face with a tornado when driving? DO NOT park under an overpass and take shelter under the bridge, Wind accelerates through the bridge causing even higher wind speeds. Some say with the newer vehicles that have airbags on the sides of the doors and your typical passenger and driver side airbags. If you do not have a vehicle with those airbags your best bet is to take shelter in the deepest ditch you can find. Do not attempt to outrun the tornado because some tornadoes can move at highway speeds.

The Weather Channel has some very useful tips on how to make your home Tornado Ready here are a few.

First things first

Structures built to meet or exceed current model building codes for high-wind regions have a much better chance of surviving violent windstorms. The Standard Building Code, issued by the Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc., is one source for guidance on fortifying your home against fierce winds. Although no home can withstand a direct hit from a severe tornado, solid construction will help your home survive if it's to the side of the tornado's path.

When inspecting your home, pay particular attention to the windows, doors, roof, gables and connections (roof-to-wall, wall-to-foundation). Residences in inland areas are typically not built to withstand high wind forces, and weaknesses in these elements of your home make it more vulnerable to significant damage.

If you're handy with a hammer and saw, you can do much of the work yourself. Work involving your home's structure may require a building contractor, however, or even a registered design professional such as an architect or engineer.

When working outside

  • Replace gravel/rock landscaping material with shredded bark.
  • Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed. Cut weak branches and trees that could fall on your house

When building or remodeling

Windows: If you are replacing your existing windows, install impact-resistant window systems, which have a much better chance of surviving a major windstorm. These window systems are commonly available in hurricane-prone areas. If you are unable to find them locally, you can order them from manufacturers or home improvement stores in coastal areas.

Entry doors: Make certain your doors have at least three hinges and a dead-bolt security lock, with a bolt at least one inch long. Anchor door frames securely to wall framing.

Patio doors: Sliding glass doors are more vulnerable to wind damage than most other doors. If you are replacing your patio doors or building a new home, consider installing impact-resistant door systems made of laminated glass, plastic glazing or a combination of plastic and glass.

Garage doors: Because of their size and construction, garage doors are highly susceptible to wind damage. A qualified inspector can determine if both the door and the track system can resist high winds and, if necessary, replace them with a stronger system.

Garage doors more than 8 feet wide are most vulnerable. Install permanent wood or metal stiffeners. Or contact the door manufacturer's technical staff for recommendations about temporary center supports you can attach and remove easily when severe weather threatens.

Roofs: If you are replacing your roof, take steps to ensure that both the new roof covering and the sheathing will resist high winds. Your roofing contractor should:

  • Remove old coverings down to the bare wood sheathing.
  • Remove sheathing to confirm that rafters and trusses are securely connected to the walls.
  • Replace damaged sheathing.
  • Refasten existing sheathing according to the proper fastening schedule outlined in the current model building code for high-wind regions.
  • Install a roof covering designed to resist high winds.
  • Seal all roof sheathing joints with self-stick rubberized asphalt tape to provide a secondary moisture barrier.

If you want to give your roof sheathing added protection, but it's not time to re-roof, glue the sheathing to the rafters and the trusses. Use an adhesive that conforms to Performance Specification AFG-01 developed by APA -- The Engineered Wood Association, which you can find at any hardware store or home improvement center.

Gables: Brace the end wall of a gable roof properly to resist high winds. Check the current model building code for high-wind regions for appropriate guidance, or consult a qualified engineer or architect.

Connections: The points where the roof and the foundation meet the walls of your house are extremely important if your home is to resist high winds and the pressures they place on the entire structure.

  • Anchor the roof to the walls with metal clips and straps (most easily added when you replace your roof).
  • Make certain the walls are properly anchored to the foundation. A registered design professional can determine if these joints need retrofitting, and a qualified contractor can perform the work the design professional identifies.
  • If your house has more than one story, make certain the upper story wall framing is firmly connected to the lower framing. The best time to do this is when you remodel.

When a tornado threatens

While no home can ever be made "tornado-proof," you can improve the odds of your home surviving high winds by taking these precautions. Take these additional steps to protect yourself and your family:

  • Decide in advance where you will take shelter (a local community shelter, perhaps, or your own underground storm cellar or in-residence "safe" room). When a tornado approaches, go there immediately. If your home has no storm cellar or in-residence "safe" room and you have no time to get to a community shelter, head to the centermost part of your basement or home -- away from windows and preferably under something sturdy like a workbench or staircase. The more walls between you and the outside, the better.
  • Become familiar with your community's severe weather warning system and make certain every adult and teenager in your family knows what to do when a tornado watch or warning sounds. Learn about your workplace's disaster safety plans and similar measures at your children's schools or day care centers.
  • Study your community's disaster preparedness plans and create a family plan in case you are able to move to a community shelter. Identify escape routes from your home and neighborhood and designate an emergency meeting place for your family to reunite if you become separated. Also establish a contact point to communicate with concerned relatives.
  • Put together an emergency kit that includes a three-day supply of drinking water and food you don't have to refrigerate or cook; first aid supplies; a portable NOAA weather radio; a wrench and other basic tools; a flashlight; work gloves; emergency cooking equipment; portable lanterns; fresh batteries for each piece of equipment; clothing; blankets; baby items; prescription medications; extra car and house keys; extra eyeglasses; credit cards and cash; important documents, including insurance policies.
  • Move anything in your yard that can become flying debris inside your house or garage before a storm strikes. Do this only if authorities have announced a tornado watch, however. If authorities have announced a tornado warning, leave it all alone.
  • Don't open your windows. You won't save the house, as once thought, and you may actually make things worse by giving wind and rain a chance to get inside.
  • Don't try to ride out a tornado in a manufactured home. Even manufactured homes with tie-downs overturn in these storms because they have light frames and offer winds a large surface area to push against. In addition, their exteriors are vulnerable to high winds and wind-borne debris.

Finally, review your homeowners insurance policy periodically with your insurance agent or company representative to make sure you have sufficient coverage to rebuild your life and home after a tornado. Report any property damage to your insurance agent or company representative immediately after a natural disaster and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.

For information about filing an insurance claim after a natural disaster, contact your insurance agent or insurance company.