Tornadoes bring destructive winds that can damage and destroy homes beyond repair with little warning. For residents of areas that see frequent tornado activity, such as the Tornado Alley region in the central United States, tornado-proof homes represent added safety and protection from property damage. Building a home that can resist a tornado requires special planning and materials.
Degrees of Resistance
Designing a home that can withstand the force of a tornado is difficult due to the power and unpredictability of tornadoes. The only type of dwelling that is completely safe from tornado damage is one that is built entirely underground. For above-ground homes, the term tornado-proof generally refers to resistance against tornadoes beyond what homes built with conventional materials and methods offer. Tornadoes may still cause damage to a tornado-proof home, but tornado-resistant homes are less likely to experience catastrophic damage than conventional homes.
One of the easiest ways to make a home tornado resistant is by using metal ties in its construction. Ties are metal plates that attach the roof rafters to the walls of a home. They also attach the bottoms of walls to the foundation. Ties effectively make it more difficult for tornado winds to lift a roof off of a home or lift the home from its foundation. All types of timber frame construction in tornado-prone areas can benefit from ties.
Reinforced concrete is the essential material for specially designed homes that are meant to withstand powerful tornadoes. Much of what makes this type of home tornado-proof involves its design, including elements such as sloped walls and open channels for wind to blow straight through the structure. Reinforced concrete, which can be poured into forms of all shapes and sizes, allows builders to construct these special walls.
Blown-in windows are a common form of tornado damage when the winds aren't powerful enough to destroy a home entirely. Glass bricks, which are much thicker and stronger than conventional window material, are an option for tornado-resistant homes. A glass brick wall allows light in but doesn't represent a source of dangerous glass shards when tornado-force winds arrive.
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