Nobody wants to get hit by a tornado, but for more than a few unfortunate people and families, it happens. Every year in the United States dozens of people are killed and injured by tornadoes that tear through their towns and cause massive amounts of damage. Thankfully, there are ways you can live in a tornado-prone area and still rest easy at night knowing that even if an F-5 super tornado rolls through, you and your family will have a great chance of surviving it.
In case you live in a house that is vulnerable to tornado damage or you want to know how to build a house from scratch that’s designed to stand up to tornados, let’s look at a few ways you can ensure that you and your family remain unharmed in event of one of the most common natural disasters on the planet.
Choose the Right Materials for Your Home
If you want to create a house from the ground-up which is designed to survive tornados, you need to start with the building blocks. The wall system of a home and how it anchors to the foundation is crucial to determining the level of protection it will provide you during a tornado. Regular walls made out of wood and sheetrock are not going to cut it in most cases. Some of these houses survive tornados and some are completely wiped out, it’s completely up to chance.
If you want to solidify your home far more than the average house, you need an ICF wall system. Insulated concrete forms are hollow concrete blocks which are linked together with rebar or ties in an interlocking system to create a solid, gapless structure with no structural weak points creating a more tornado safe house.
Of course, you’ll have doors and windows like normal but your walls will all be one structure, not multiple structures nailed together. The level of strength, durability, insulation, and moisture/air barrier that this kind of wall system provides is exactly what you need to massively boost your chances of surviving a tornado in your home.
Utilize a Basement
Assuming you don’t have an ICF wall system, there are other ways you can tornado proof your home. Making use of your basement, if you have one, is one way. By going in your basement during a tornado, you’ll have less chance of being hit by debris or swept away, the top two causes of death during tornadoes.
But, you need to make sure your basement is fortified as well. By equipping it with a below-grade continuous insulation solution, you’ll be adding extra protection against air and moisture intrusion. Both of these are critical if a tornado hits your area.
Create a Storm Shelter in Your Home
You can’t have your entire home constructed from ICFs if you’re already moved into one with a regular wall setup, but you can fortify a room or add one on to create a storm shelter within your home. The concept is the same as using ICFs to build your house, only you are concentrating the benefits on this material into a small safe room which you would gather everyone into during a tornado.
A well-built ICF safe room will exceed the criteria FEMA has established for residential safe rooms in regards to impact resistance and a continuous load path. It will be able to withstand impacts from flying debris that is traveling over 100mph.
Not only that, but building a tornado safe room with insulated concrete forms will increase the value of your home by as much as $4,000 on average.
Tornado-Proofing Your Home Can Be Done In a Variety of Ways
Tornados are terrifying when you’re caught in them, and the only way to give yourself an extra level of comfort and security in the event of one is to fortify your house, which can be done in a few different ways. If you live in a home with a basement, use that as your safe-zone during a tornado. Make sure your basement is properly insulated, however. Using a continuous insulation solution is the best way to do this.
Building a tornado safe room in your home will give you an added level of protection even above that. Use a storm-proof wall system like the ICF for the best results. This is also a great choice for building the entire above-ground portion of your home as well, if you have the chance to.
The fact that insulated concrete forms are certified by FEMA to provide more than the official amount of wind and debris protection required to be considered an official storm shelter means that you’ve given yourself close to the highest level of protection possible from tornados. Their continuous load path, durability, and energy efficiency make them the perfect material for any home, especially one in the path of a tornado.