Over the past few years, more than 60 tornadoes have struck areas around the Commonwealth of Virginia. Don't be caught unprepared. Severe weather can damage your home and no building is indestructible by dangerous storms. Here are things you can do to maximize your safety and minimize the amount of damage you may incur from severe weather.
- Invest in a portable NOAA weather alert radio, or sign up for wireless or email alerts to let you know of approaching storms.
- Make sure your home is up to, or exceeds, Standard Building Code. Hire an inspector to point out areas where you can improve the structure of your home.
- Keep an eye on windows, doors, the roof, gables and connections. These areas could be weak spots that need to be sealed or reinforced to withstand high winds.
- Outside, replace gravel or rock landscaping with shredded bark and keep trees and shrubbery trimmed. Cut weak branches or tree limbs that could fall onto your house.
- Replace existing windows with impact-resistant windows. These are often available in hurricane-prone
areas and you may be able to order them from manufactures' or stores in coastal areas if they aren't available in your region.
- Make sure your exterior doors have at least three hinges and a dead bolt security lock.
- Garages more than 8 feet wide are most vulnerable to high winds. Install wood or metal stiffeners or purchase temporary supports you attach when severe weather approaches.
- If installing a new roof, remove all old coverings down to the bare wood sheathing and inspect for damage. Refasten sheathing according to building code for high wind regions.
- Assemble a disaster supply kit in your home that includes: First aid kit and essential medications; Canned food and can opener; At least three gallons of water per person; Protective clothing; bedding, or sleeping bags; Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
During a Storm
- Come up with a plan of where your family should go in case of tornado, thunderstorm, flood, etc. During a tornado, choose the lowest floor of your home with no windows, preferably a basement. Minimize the amount of clutter to reduce the risk of injury. If you cannot get to the lowest floor (ie: you live in a high rise) pick a place in the hallway in the center of the building.
- If you are indoors when a storm with large hailstones strikes, stay there. Large hail can break windows, so close your drapes, blinds or window shades to prevent the wind from blowing broken glass inside. Stay away from skylights and doors.
- Don't open your windows during a tornado. You won't save the house, as was once thought, and you may actually make things worse by giving wind and rain a chance to get inside.
After a Storm
- Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of the damaged area.
- Listen to the radio for information and instructions.
- Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage.
- Do not use candles in case of undetected gas leaks.