Shandy Heil, Skinner, Patricia, Reichel, Claudette Hanks
Preventing wind damage involves strengthening areas where things could come apart. The walls, roof and foundation must be strong. Also, the attachments between them must be secure. For a home to resist hurricane and weak tornadic winds, it must have a continuous load path -- connections that tie all structural parts together and can resist all the types of wind loads -- from the roof to the foundation.
Imagine turning your house upside down and shaking it. That is essentially the kind of stress hurricane-force winds put on a house. The weak link in the load path is what’s most likely to fail. Wind exerts three types of forces on your home:
The actual effects of these wind forces on houses depend on the design, construction and surroundings of the house. Among other things, high wind pressures tend to:
In addition, broken windows and doors can expose your home to serious damage from internal wind pressures and water entry.
Check the wind zone of your location and use the protections that will help your home resist the wind speed of your region or a neighboring region closer to the coast. Louisiana’s coastline is receding, which means many south Louisiana homes are getting closer to open water.
Code-Plus Programs: It’s a good investment to go beyond minimum code requirements. Doing so adds additional damage resistance, peace of mind and market value. Enhancements also may qualify homeowners for current or future incentives, such as property insurance discounts. Two code-plus programs are widely recognized and included in the Louisiana building code legislation as alternatives for code compliance.
Its guidelines provide a more standardized set of requirements that offer greater safety, damage resistance and simplicity than minimum code requirements. They also include best practices to reduce water damage that are not addressed in the codes. For more information and videos on property protection techniques, and to download the Fortified building guidelines, visit www.ibhs.org.
For a more thorough description of how wind affects buildings, visit the Web sites of the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center and FEMA.
Its guidelines are also more standardized than code and apply to houses that fit within a given set of design criteria. They are based upon a design wind speed of 140 mph. For more information and the building guidelines, visit www.blueprintforsafety.org. For information on ways to protect existing homes and to see animated “how-to” clips, visit www.flash.org
General Wind-resistance Features
Reinforced safe room within house: Safe rooms are typically designed to provide near absolute protection to you and your family from the high winds expected during tornadoes and associated flying debris, such as pieces of destroyed buildings. A master bedroom closet or bathroom with no windows is a common location for a safe room. In areas with little exposure to strong tornados but at risk of hurricanes or high wind storms, an in-home storm shelter can be built inexpensively to a lower standard than the FEMA guidelines while still providing greater protection (primarily from flying debris) than the rest of the house.
Storm storage: Include in your home design storage for outdoor items that may become flying debris in high wind. Outside structures and accessories, such as air conditioning condensers, light fixtures and sheds, which can’t be moved indoors for protection, should be anchored securely to a foundation or to structural parts of the house.