Common Tornado Myths
Tornadoes can strike any day or night throughout the year. However, tornadoes are more common from March through June, particularly for states in the Southeast, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Although there is little you can do to prepare your home for an EF-2 or stronger tornado, options for improving structural performance do exist and can produce effective results during a weaker tornado. Combined with the use of a safe room, widespread use of effective strapping, which might increase the cost of a wood frame house by two percent, would create houses that are significantly more resistant to all kinds of severe wind events, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).
Find out additional ways you can reduce your tornado risks before, during and after a storm by visiting IBHS’ tornado resources page at DisasterSafety.org. Meanwhile, as you prepare for a possible tornado, know the truth about the following common misconceptions regarding tornadoes.
Common Tornado Myths
(Source: National Weather Service)
• Myth: Tornadoes don’t cross rivers. Although some landforms may influence the distribution of tornadoes, rivers do not have any clear effect on them. The great tri-state tornado of 1925 crossed both the Mississippi and the Wabash rivers.
• Myth: Open windows in your house to equalize pressure. Do not do this. Your house will not “explode” due to a tornado passing over it and taking time to open windows merely reduces your ability to seek safe shelter in time. In fact, once an opening is created, air rushers inside a structure and pressurizes it like inflating a balloon. The internal pressures build up and put pressure on ceilings and the roof, which is also getting uplift pressures from external wind forces. This can lead to the entire structure collapsing.
• Myth: Get to the southwest corner of the building for safety. The safest place in a building is in a small, reinforced room (such as a bathroom or closet) near the center of the building, on the lowest floor (preferably below ground). Even safer is a tornado safe room.
• Myth: Tornadoes skip. Sometimes, the damage path of a tornado will result in demolition of several buildings, followed by several lightly damaged, followed by several more demolished. This gives the impression that the tornado “skipped” over the less-damaged structures. There are several explanations for this. One is that the surviving buildings were better-constructed. Also a possibility is that the orientation of the buildings resulted in varying degrees of vulnerability.
© 2012 Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety