Wind damage can be a major factor for builders of safe rooms to consider when designing structures, especially those located in high wind zones where tornadoes are prevalent.
Recent cases of wind damaged buildings showcase the potential impact and safety concerns the property owners need to account for. Businesses and property owners need to have proper safety precautions in place to protect employees, residents, and visitors. But they also need to take steps to protect the structural integrity of their buildings in the case of tornadoes or other major storms.
Here’s some more information about the potential impact of extreme weather events, and what building owners can do to increase security and maintain structural integrity in the event of a tornado.
Current Cases of Wind Damage Across the US
According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, damaging winds are classified as those above 50-60 mph. However, the most damaging tornadoes can have wind speeds that exceed 300 mph. So the extent of the safety issues and property damage can vary widely depending on the specific storm.
Recently, storms involving strong winds caused power outages, property damage, and local emergency declarations in parts of California and Oregon. Experts estimate that the long series of storms could cause more damage than the San Andreas earthquake, most of it being caused by flooding and high wind speeds.
On the other side of the country, a much shorter storm was able to do some property damage to buildings in Mobile, Alabama. Strong bursts of wind were able to knock over tree limbs, trash cans, and even a trampoline.
While these two recent storms were very different, they demonstrate the need for businesses and property owners around the country to take precautions against the effects of strong winds via a safe room. Whether you’re located in an area where tornadoes are prominent or not, wind damage can be absolutely devastating to businesses and to the structural integrity of any building.
The impact can be even worse for small and medium sized companies, 40% of which never even re-open after facing a natural disaster. This is normally because of building and property damage, combined with insurance issues and extra costs accrued from attempting to rebuild or replace valuable items that were lost.
Tornado Alley Is Shifting
Traditionally, businesses and building owners located in “Tornado Alley” have been the most concerned about structural issues and property damage caused by tornadoes and strong winds. Tornado Alley doesn’t have any official, agreed-upon boundaries, but various studies throughout the year have found that a majority of serious tornadoes tend to appear through the middle of the country, congregating mainly in states like Kansas, Oklahoma, and northern Texas.
However, experts believe that Tornado Alley may actually be shifting. Now, states in the Southeast and Midwest seem to be at a greater risk of regularly occurring tornadoes. States like Texas and Oklahoma still get their fair share of tornadoes as well, but now a plethora of other states are also facing increased threats of wind damage.
Essentially, this means that a whole new set of buildings and property owners need to be far more concerned about the potential impact of recurring tornadoes. The Southeast and Midwestern states located in these regions also have some more highly populated areas than those in the traditional Tornado Alley areas. This may increase the threat level and make it even more vital for businesses and building owners to consider safe rooms for their structures to improve safety.
Preventative Security and Damage Prevention Measures for Your Business
First and foremost, you need to create a disaster plan for your building that is designed to keep the people inside safe. OSHA recommends a variety of training exercises, evacuation plans, and best practices that you might consider sharing with your employees or posting around your building to ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of a tornado or other disaster.
However, these events can also lead to massive property damage and security issues for businesses. Companies often keep valuable equipment, proprietary goods, and servers and hard drives containing sensitive data on site. A tornado-proof safe room should be considered as a method of security against these events.
Wind and impact resistant systems are so crucial for commercial safe room design throughout the country, but especially those located in high wind zones. In fact, experts have recently suggested that national standards for safe rooms need to be updated. So if you’re concerned about storm damage or safety issues surrounding tornadoes or strong winds, it may be beneficial to do a bit more than what’s required by law or your local building code.
If you’re looking to tornado proof your building for safety reasons, contact Insulgard today. We offer a wide array of products designed to withstand high winds and potential impact from flying debris. Our StormDefend glazing materials, framing systems, and doors can help you fortify your safe room to reduce property damage even during extreme weather events. They can be used to enhance safe rooms and storm shelters to protect the safety of those inside. Speak with one of our knowledgeable representatives to find the products that will be most beneficial for your building.