How To Tornado-Proof A House

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante
Credit: Shutterstock / sdecoret

Anyone who lives in an area prone to tornadoes understands how extreme they are. The immense wind power, barrage of debris, and blaring sirens are terrifying. Your best bet is to tornado-proof your house to protect yourself and minimize the risk of damage.

The best way to tornado-proof a house is to fortify the roof with clips and straps and install impact-resistant windows. Impact-resistant doors can also stop strong windows from entering your home and destroying your belongings. Trim your trees and cut down dead trees so the tornado doesn’t send them flying into your home.

You must also secure your outdoor furniture, grills, and trampoline with ratchet straps and braided wire. That way, the wind won’t carry them toward your home and damage the structure. Follow along as we explore how to tornado-proof a house so you can have some peace of mind.

How To Protect Your House From Tornadoes

There’s no way to completely protect your home from tornadoes, but impact-resistant doors and windows can help. The term “tornado-proof” isn’t ironclad, but you can take several steps to protect your home from tornadoes.

1. Fortify Your Roof

Roofs are quite vulnerable to both tornadoes and hurricanes. One of the best ways to tornado-proof a house is to fortify your roof to minimize damage. A tornado can even blow a roof off a house due to the extreme wind speed.

Unfortunately, securing the roof isn’t something you can simply do without professional help. Hire a roofer to install clips and straps to hold your roof in place. You may even need to redo your roof altogether if it’s in bad condition.

Metal roofs provide the most safety from tornadoes, hurricanes, hail, and extreme wind. Concrete tiles and asphalt shingles are also highly resistant to extreme winds. Clay roofs are the most susceptible to tornadoes. You can expect to spend up to $1,000 to tornado-proof your roof.

2. Trim Or Remove Nearby Trees

The extreme force of a tornado can easily throw branches and even whole trees at your home. That’s especially true if you have unhealthy trees on your property that are already likely to fall. In that case, it’s worth the cost to remove any weak trees that have cracked stumps and roots.

It costs up to $1,500 or more to remove a tree, depending on its size and the service you choose. Whether a tornado hits or not, the dead tree can still damage your home when it falls. It’s also a great idea to trim the branches on healthy trees near your home.

Tornado speeds can exceed 318 miles per hour, and that’s more than enough to knock branches off. The branches can then easily fly toward your home and even break windows. Maintain your trees year-round if tornadoes are common where you live.

3. Brace Your Garage Door

Your house will be quite vulnerable to a tornado if the garage door blows off. That’s why you must brace the garage door before the tornado hits. Of course, you can only pull this off if you have ample time to safely install a brace.

Never prioritize this precaution if the tornado is about to hit. Ideally, you should brace your garage door with some pressure-treated lumber to maximize durability. All it takes to brace a garage door is some brackets, wood, nuts, bolts, and anchors.

The process typically takes less than an hour, and it can significantly help tornado-proof your house. You must remove the brace after the tornado passes, which can be inconvenient, but it’s worth it.

4. Install An Impact-Resistant Garage Door

Install an impact-resistant garage door if you live in an area where tornadoes are common. These doors are specifically meant to withstand extreme winds and heavy impacts. Also known as hurricane doors, impact-resistant garage doors cost between $1,000 and $10,000 to install.

That said, you are unlikely to spend more than $6,000 to install one. The thick walls of impact-resistant garage doors are often made of steel and reinforced with aluminum. Not only can they withstand high winds, but they can also handle objects being thrown at them.

That’s one of the biggest risks of tornadoes, which often lift and throw trees, cars, and furniture. Many hurricane doors also feature impact-resistant glass to further fortify them. You can still brace your impact-resistant garage door for good measure and peace of mind.

5. Minimize Risks In Your Basement

You likely already know that it’s a great idea to head to your basement when there is a tornado warning. However, your basement will only provide shelter if you avoid the windows. It’s a great idea to put flashlights, water, and canned foods in the basement.

You never know how long you’re going to have to spend down there, so you may need resources. It’s also important to be aware of which objects are overhead. For example, you should leave clear spaces in areas that have no dangerous objects above them.

That way, you can wait out the tornado in a spot where heavy objects, like washing machines, won’t fall through the ceiling. Never stand in a part of your basement that is below heavy utilities, furniture, and even a piano.

6. Move Your Outdoor Furniture

During tornado season, it’s a good idea to bring your outdoor furniture inside. This can be quite inconvenient, but it’s better than fixing damage from flying objects. You should especially move heavy objects, such as grills, inside.

Of course, you can always wait to bring your outdoor furniture inside until a day with a tornado watch. That said, tornadoes can form quickly, and you may not have time to move the furniture.

7. Install Tornado-Resistant Doors

Tornado wind can destroy your home’s interior if it gets past your entry doors. Luckily, you can find tornado-resistant doors that are thick and hard to get past. This will also help beef up your home’s security, and that’s a bonus.

Wooden doors simply cannot withstand tornado winds, and they are likely to break. FEMA encourages homeowners to install storm-resistant doors, but it doesn't recommend specific products. You should have luck if you look for steel-reinforced doors.

Look for tornado-resistant doors that are compliant with FEMA’s recommendations. You can find FEMA-compliant storm-safe doors for roughly $6,000. While it is pricey, it’s worth the cost to tornado-proof your home.

8. Fasten Your Appliances

Heavy appliances, like washing machines and dryers, are quite dangerous during tornadoes. They may feel heavy, but a tornado can easily throw them around if they aren’t secured. You can easily fasten these appliances with something as simple as a few ratchet straps.

Braided wire works as well and is unlikely to snap during the tornado. Ideally, you should repeat this process with some of your heavy furniture as well.

It’s easy to secure couches, chairs, beds, tables, and pianos with ratchet straps. Prioritize the appliances first then shift your attention to heavy pieces of furniture.

9. Replace Your Windows

Tornadoes can shatter glass and send it flying throughout your home. The glass itself is a hazard, but the wind that enters your home can wreak more havoc. Hurricane-proof windows are enough to defend against the extreme pressure and impact that come with tornadoes.

You can expect to spend between $2,500 and $14,000 to replace all your windows. The cost ultimately depends on how many windows you have at home. Between labor and materials, you may spend up to $1,000 per window, depending on its size.

These thick windows typically feature at least two panes. Each pane has shatter-resistant glass, so it offers plenty of protection from tornadoes. The cost is the only downside of impact-resistant windows.

10. Install A Tornado Shelter

As the name suggests, tornado shelters provide the ultimate protection from tornadoes. They are made of durable materials like steel, fiberglass, Kevlar, and concrete that can withstand extreme pressure. Impact-resistant, tornado shelters may not protect your whole home, but they will protect you.

You can even put important documents, such as birth certificates, in your tornado shelter to protect them. The last thing you want to do is lose your birth certificate, social security card, or medical documents in a tornado. You can install tornado shelters in your basement, garage, and even under your garage.

It costs between $2,500 and $30,000 to install a tornado shelter. The cost varies based on the size, materials, location, and labor. Shelters that can fit 6 people cost the most, but the cost is worth it if you have a big family.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tornado Damage?

Many homeowners insurance policies cover tornado damage. Traditional insurance policies cover your home’s structure and the belongings within it. Your insurance provider should be able to cover roof, window, door, and interior damage at your house.

Contact your insurance provider or read their policies if you aren’t sure whether they cover tornado damage. It’s rare to find a policy that doesn’t cover tornado damage. However, it’s worth it to switch to a different provider if your current company doesn’t provide this coverage.

Summing It Up

Fortify your roof, trim your trees, remove dead trees, and brace your garage door to tornado-proof your house. It’s also a great idea to install tornado-resistant windows and doors to protect against wind damage. Hire a roofer to secure your roof with straps and clips so the roof doesn’t blow off your home during a tornado.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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