Safety Precautions Before Severe Weather

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Release date: 
June 9, 2008
Release Number: 
1761-021

ATLANTA, Ga. -- Mitigation is the effort to reduce the loss of life and property by lessening the effect of disasters. A recent study shows that each dollar spent on mitigation saves an average of four dollars. FEMA's mitigation specialists manage numerous congressionally-authorized programs that address the effects of natural hazards through mitigation activities.

The Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program provides funds to states, territories, Indian tribal governments, communities, and universities for hazard mitigation planning and the implementation of mitigation projects prior to a disaster event. In a presidentially declared disaster, some money is earmarked for ways to help avoid future disaster.

The tornadoes and severe storms that struck 14 Georgia counties May 11-12 came with little warning. Taking advanced precautions is the best answer for minimizing damage from severe 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 (GEMA) 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.

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 location of trees will minimize tree loss and home damage.

One way to prevent storm damage on a home from falling trees is to locate trees far enough away from your house that they cannot fall on it. The distance between your house and any nearby tree should be greater than...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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