Tornadoes are appearing more often in places where they rarely occurred just a decade ago. Many people are caught by surprise when a tornado rips through their neighborhood for the first time. That’s why it’s more important than ever for home and business owners around the country to prepare for a potential tornado to protect themselves and their property from unnecessary damage.
Of course, you can’t prevent tornado damage entirely if it hits your home directly. However, there are many tried-and-true methods for minimizing tornado damage during a near-miss. Here’s what you need to know about how tornadoes can damage your property and tips you can use to reduce it as much as possible.
How Tornadoes Can Harm Your Home
Tornadoes are violently spinning funnels of wind that can pick up or destroy almost anything in their path. Wind speeds in a tornado can be as high as 250 miles an hour, which is more than enough to tear trees out of the ground, destroy windows, and toss debris through walls.
There are two ways a tornado can cause property damage: by hitting your home directly or by tossing debris at it. If a tornado hits your home straight on, there’s little you can do to protect it. A direct hit often levels homes entirely due to the force of the winds. Your best bet is to shelter in your basement or an interior room and hope.
Luckily, though, most tornadoes are incredibly localized. The average tornado path is just 150 feet wide, though super-tornadoes as wide as a mile sometimes crop up. This means that most homeowners only have to worry about damage from near-misses.
A near-miss can still cause significant damage, but your home most likely won’t be destroyed. It may face:
- Wind damage, including loose shingles, siding, gutters, and doors
- Hail and debris issues, including broken windows and holes in your walls or roof
- Fallen trees
- Destroyed fixtures
You can’t prevent these issues entirely, but you can minimize them by storm-proofing your home.
Tips and Tricks to Minimize Tornado Damage
The biggest dangers of tornadoes are high winds and debris. If you prepare for these issues in advance, you may be able to protect your home from the worst of tornado season. Some tricks that can help you keep your home in better condition after a storm include:
Secure Outdoor Items
Keep your yard clean and tidy up loose items quickly during tornado season. Fallen branches, lawn chairs, children’s toys, grills, and yard equipment can become dangerous projectiles during a tornado. If a tornado picks up these items, it can and will launch them at highway speeds at any structures nearby. Keeping your yard clean gives a storm that much less debris with which to harm your home.
Don’t wait until a storm is announced, either. Tornadoes can move incredibly quickly. If you wait until tornado sirens sound, it’s too late; you must immediately get inside somewhere safe. Instead, make it a habit to store things in your garage or shed rather than leaving them outside.
Strengthen Your Doors and Windows
Doors and windows are the weakest points of your home’s structure. High winds or debris can break windows and blow open doors, allowing the elements into your home to cause even more damage. Investing in stronger doors and windows will help reduce the risk of a nearby tornado damaging the inside of your home. Important tasks include:
- Keeping hinges and doorframes in good condition
- Installing heavy-duty deadbolt latches that can be used to secure doors during storms
- Installing impact-resistant windows and patio doors
- Getting braces for double doors to keep them from blowing open
- Installing wind-resistance garage doors
Stay on Top of Roof Repair
Any storm with high winds or hail can damage your roof. Regularly inspect your roof to make sure that it’s in good condition. Poorly maintained roofs are more likely to be destroyed if a tornado passes by. A well-maintained roof may still be damaged but is more likely to protect the rest of your home from water damage.
If you do need to make roof repairs to prepare for a storm, it’s worth investing in wind-resistant materials. Certain roof materials like slate and metal are less likely to come loose during windstorms and tornadoes, protecting your entire home.
Address Storm Damage Quickly
What you do after a storm is just as important as preparing beforehand. Storm damage can frequently lead to worse problems if you don’t address it quickly. For instance, roof issues often lead to leaks, mold, and water damage, while broken doors can invite bug problems or even burglaries. Taking immediate action to repair your home can help you avoid further harm and help you get back to normal as quickly as possible.
Inspect your home after the storm to identify and document any damage, then take steps like:
- Put tarps over cracked or missing sections of your roof
- Cover broken windows with plastic
- Replace broken doors or hinges
- Dry out flooded rooms or basements
- Get damaged trees removed before they fall on your home
This is particularly important for your insurance claims. Many insurance policies will only cover damage directly caused by a storm, not additional problems caused by slow responses. For instance, your insurance company may cover roof repairs but not water damage that occurred because the roof was damaged.
Prepare for Tornado Damage with Pro Law Group
You can’t prevent tornadoes, but you can do your best to minimize their impact on your home. By keeping your yard clear, strengthening your doors and windows, keeping your roof in good condition, and repairing storm problems as quickly as possible, you can avoid many of the most common kinds of tornado damage.
You can work with the Professional Law Group’s Ready Now program if you want to do more. With Ready Now, you don’t have to worry about your insurance company trying to underpay your claims. The expert attorneys at the Professional Law Group will inspect your property and prepare to file professional, thorough claims on your behalf should the worst happen. Learn more about how the Read Now program can help you protect your property from natural disasters.