How to Protect Your Building from Storm Damage
Many lives and homes have been lost due to storms that have escalated to full typhoons (Asia) or hurricanes (Americas). For better understanding, weather experts say that hurricanes form in the Northeast Pacific Ocean east of the international dateline and in the North Atlantic Ocean. Typhoons are formed in the Northwest Pacific Ocean west of the international dateline. Cyclones are found in the Indian Ocean and in the Southwest Pacific Ocean.
Taking this information into consideration it is therefore a fact that UK and Europe countries do not experience hurricanes or typhoons. The closest thing to a hurricane that UK and Europe could experience is remnants of hurricanes or ex-hurricanes. However the rest of UK and Europe experience storms, tornado and other severe weather that could pose a threat to the affected area and its populace.
Though there are Building Regulations that are meant to be followed strictly to ensure the safety of occupants in and out of the structure, some codes are still laxly adhered to. Code compliance is a must! Inferior designs and the use of inferior materials are the two main factors why there are homes that are literally blown away by strong winds. A new home is not guaranteed from a devastating tornado or snow storm. Flying and falling debris can shatter window and other glass panelling while "weak" points in the house's structure can buckle down because of strong winds. Whole housed have been known to be washed away by flash floods.
Storm proofing your home may be the best answer for you to feel safer inside your home in case of natural disasters such as storms and tornadoes. How do you storm proof your house?
Basic Storm Proof Design
The design of your house should conform to the natural environmental conditions of the locality. This should include considerations regarding the climate, weather and terrain of your area. If your house is to be built on the top of a hill in an area prone to rain, then the foundation of your house should be so designed as to withstand (or at least hold off) possible landslides due to heavy rains. If you are living in an area that receives an annual snowfall that is close to 12 inches or more, then designing a house that has a flat roof is one sure way for you to be trapped in your house when the roof caves in due to heavy snow fall.
It is almost mandatory to get the services of an architect for your house plans. If you cannot afford an architect, there are companies that sell ready-built floor plans. You may need to tweak the plan a bit but this should pose no problem since most of these companies can customize the floor plan to suit your specification.
Preferred Storm Proofing Materials
There are still a lot of homes being built today that uses wood for framing. The wood sizes are the usual 2"X4 "and 2"X6" lumber. When all things considered, houses that have wood framing are not durable. Houses made of lumber can very well be matchsticks when a tornado hits. According to a study done by engineering firms, homes made of concrete are definitely more storm-resistant that houses made of wood and steel. Steel? Yes. Steel can bend when enough pressure is applied to it.
Reinforced concrete, concrete and concrete masonry are your best bet in materials that are almost 100% storm-proof. Bricks and quarry stones are good materials too.
There are new materials that are out in the market today that could prove to have a high level of storm resistance. Insulated concrete forms are hollow foam blocks that are reinforced with concrete. These are available in panels and staircase moulding too. You can build a whole house using this material. These insulated concrete forms are highly resistant to wind and waves.
Storm Proof Key Areas
No matter how meticulous you are with your house design and material that you use, your house can never be truly 100% storm proof. Even homes made of concrete and reinforced concrete have their weak points. There are three key areas that you need to look into to further storm proof your home.
- The Roof - The least storm proof roof is a gabled roof. Because of its height this type of roof is more susceptible to high winds damage. If your house has gabled roofing, add braces in the trusses and at the gable ends. You can cut galvanized metal into straps loop then into the rafters and/or trusses and secure the roof to the walls. If you have a loft, cover dormer window or roof windows with storm shutters.
- The windows - The same with dormer and roof windows, secure all the windows in the house with storm shutters. There are companies that make custom-made shutters for your windows. Construction supply stores carry these items. If you prefer, you can make your own plywood shutters.
- The Doors - As most doors do not have bolts that are strong enough to withstand strong winds, install additional bolts to your doors. You can also brace your door from the inside with pieces of 2"x4" lumber but these could also prove dangerous because a flying lumber could be fatal. It would be better to purchase bracing kits for your house doors and garage doors. While you are at it, put in additional hinges in your garage doors.
These points cannot guarantee your safety and the safety of your house. However, these points can help lessen storm damage. When a storm is brewing and your house is in the path, follow these precautions and then some. Make sure you have the presence of mind to turn off electric, gas and water supplies.