The Iriquois people believed tornadoes were the physical manifestation of Dagwanoenyent – a fearsome, immortal witch who could be called upon to aid warriors in battle if they knew the right song to sing to her.
Perhaps all of this is true, but we can only confirm that tornadoes are indeed fearsome. They kill an average of 71 Americans each year. Approximately 1,500 more are injured. Tornadoes also result in more than $200 million worth of property damage annually.
The state of Minnesota receives an average of 29 tornadoes each year. If you call The North Star State home, then you had better know how to safely weather a tornado. Your safety and the integrity of your home or commercial property both depend on it!
How to Stay Safe During a Tornado
- Know the warning signs. A tornado is an obvious natural phenomenon: It is a large, funnel-shaped cloud with an average height of 1,640 to 4,921′. If you aren’t able to see the funnel, you may still perceive a tornado by noticing a ground-level cloud of debris or debris falling from the sky. Tornadoes produce a loud, continuous rumble that is often likened to the sound of an approaching train. Tornado weather occasionally turns the sky an eerie shade of green (which is perhaps the reason why L. Frank Baum described Oz as an “emerald city”).
- Be prepared. You must be able to shelter in place until a tornado no longer poses a threat to your safety. That means prepping – a pastime which is already practiced by many, but ultimately far too few. Have the following available ahead of time:
- Nonperishable foods
- First-aid supplies, including any prescription medications you and your family require
- Battery-operated television, radio, or internet-enabled device that you can use to stay apprised of weather conditions without going outdoors
- Batteries, which typically have a shelf life of approximately 10 years when stored at 70 °F
- List of phone numbers you may need, in case your cell phone battery dies
- Emergency plan to get to your shelter
- Know where to take shelter. Airborne debris is the leading cause of injuries and deaths resulting from tornadoes. A gust of wind as slow as 50 mph is strong enough to drive a piece of straw into a telephone pole. Tornado wind speeds can exceed 300 mph. That is why you are advised to take shelter inside your basement – or, barring that, any windowless room on the lowest floor of your home. Seek greater protection by hiding underneath a sturdy table and covering your body with a blanket or mattress, taking special care to keep your head covered. Mobile homes and vehicles are not considered safe during tornadoes. Seek shelter in a structure that has a foundation!
How to Keep Your Property Protected During a Tornado
- Keep surrounding trees trimmed. Make certain the trees surrounding your property do not have dead or dying limbs, as these can easily become high-velocity projectiles during a tornado. Note that wind speeds as slow as 55 mph are still powerful enough to uproot larger trees completely.
- Reduce risk of airborne projectiles. Keep the area around your property free of any objects that could become airborne during a tornado. These include patio furniture, garbage cans, barbecues, lumber, and even landscaping gravel. Smaller structures such as sheds should be anchored to the ground with ties or straps. Note that sheet metal is especially dangerous to keep lying around, as a tornado may effectively turn it into a giant flying knife.
- Know how to turn off gas, water and electricity. Tornado damage can wreak havoc on a property’s utilities. Learn how to turn them off ahead of time so you can help prevent gas leaks, water leaks and electrical fires. Because tornadoes are often accompanied by lightning, consider installing a surge protector at your property.
- Fortify vulnerable areas. Tornado-force wind gusts can easily cave in garage doors and toss debris through windows. You can prepare your garage door by attaching a bracing kit, which includes long metal bars that fortify it against strong wind. Boarding up windows (or installing a storm shutter system ahead of time) will make the interior of your property much safer, as well as significantly reduce the risk of roof detachment.
- Maintain gutters and downspouts. It is recommended that you clean your gutters at least once or twice every year. When you do, make certain the gutter system’s numerous fasteners are all tight and uncorroded. Note that steel gutters boast greater durability than aluminum or vinyl alternatives, which is why they are preferable in areas where heavy hailstorms are common.
- Maintain roof and siding. When they are in poor condition, roofing and siding both have a far greater risk of incurring damage during a tornado. Even a moderate gust of wind can pry old vinyl siding and asphalt shingles loose – or tear them clean off the property. If your siding or shingles are over 20 years old, replacing them is vital if you wish to ensure your property’s best chance at surviving a tornado unscathed.
Do you need expert siding, roofing or storm damage repair services in the greater St Cloud, Little Falls, Alexandria or Brainerd, MN areas? Then we welcome you to contact Exterior Pro today to request your free estimate!