Hazard-Specific Disaster-Resistant Measures

April 15, 2013

According to industry experts, there are differences in the ways that structures can be made disaster-resistant, depending on the hazard.

Hurricane: The key to storm-resistant construction is keeping connections in place, roof to wall, floor to floor, and floor to foundation. The roof is the first line of defense in a storm. It’s also important to keep windows in place. Hurricane clips, straps and anchor bolts are often used in disaster-resistant structures.

Tornado: Storm basements and safe rooms are often used in the area of the United States known as Tornado Alley. Safe rooms, which can be built to withstand winds up to 200 mph, are constructed out of concrete and can be built inside pre-existing rooms or outside.

Wildfire: The replacement of wood decks and wood shake roofs with fire-resistant materials can help a structure in a wildfire. The use of fire-resistant siding, dual glaze or tempered glass windows, fire-rated doors as entry doors, screening on all vents and vegetation management is also helpful.

Earthquake: Buildings need to be made with lightweight material that can sway and move. Reinforced floor to foundation connections also help. Generally, low-level buildings do better than tall buildings.

Experts emphasize a system-based approach to retrofitting an existing structure.

“The roof is a system. It’s not just shingles. It’s what’s underneath the shingles and how the roof is attached at the house, everything,” Rochman of IBHS said.

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