ATLANTA, Ga. -- The tornadoes and severe storms that struck seven Georgia counties and downtown Atlanta came with little notice. Taking precautions long before storm clouds start to form is the best answer for minimizing damage from foul weather such as windstorms and tornadoes.
While major structural damage is often unavoidable, there are a number of simple preventive steps homeowners can take to reduce or minimize damage, according to hazard-reduction specialists.
State and federal recovery officials stress that taking action before disaster strikes by implementing these mitigation measures to reduce property and home damage can dramatically lessen the costs in dollars and lives from tornadoes and windstorms.
Homeowners can protect their homes, both inside and out, against disaster damages by following steps suggested by mitigation experts at the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Keeping Outdoor Gear from Becoming Windborne Missiles
High velocity winds from thunderstorms and tornadoes can turn patio furniture, grills and tree branches into destructive missiles. If the area immediately surrounding your house contains trees, outbuildings, trash cans, yard debris, or other materials that can be moved by the wind, your house will more likely be damaged during a tornado or windstorm. The wind can topple trees onto your home and can pick up smaller objects and drive them through windows and glass doors.
All storage sheds and other outbuildings should be securely anchored, either to a permanent foundation or with straps and ground anchors. The straps and ground anchors used for manufactured homes can be used for the anchoring systems for outbuildings, such as garden sheds, which are not placed on a permanent foundation. Outdoor furniture and barbecue grills can be secured by bolting them to decks or patios or by attaching them to ground anchors with cables or chains.
Even trash cans can be secured with cables or chains attached to ground anchors or to wood posts firmly embedded in the ground.
Reinforce Vulnerable Areas
High winds from tornadoes can damage garage doors or even blow them in. If wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage to the home. A garage door can be reinforced by adding braces across the back of the door and by strengthening the glider wheel tracks.? If the existing door is old or damaged, it should be replaced with a stronger door and tracks. These modifications should be done only by a trained garage-door systems technician. If your home is under construction, look into purchasing a garage door built to withstand high winds.
Trees and Landscaping Tips
Tall leafy oaks and maples beautify yards and cool homes with their shade, but they also can provide the ammunition for flying debris to break windows, crush walls, and puncture roofs. Proper maintenance and siting of trees will minimize tree loss and home damage.
The surest way to prevent storm damage on a home from falling trees, is to locate trees far enough away from your house that they can?t fall on it. The distance between your house and any nearby tree should be greater than the height the tree will reach when it is fully grown.
Proper care of trees can also prevent storm damage. Three-fourths of the damage that trees incur during storms is predictable and preventable. Trees with wounds, decay, structural defects, stem girdling roots, severed roots and soil compaction are prime targets for experiencing storm damage.
Here are some basic steps in keeping your trees healthy and beautiful, as well as limiting the damage that can be caused by flying tree debris:
- Plant the tree at the correct depth by making sure the roots are at the soil...