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Steps To Reduce Risk of Tornado Damage

About 1,250 tornadoes occur each year in the United States, causing an average of $1.1 billion in property damage and 80 deaths. Of these, around 77 percent are classified as EF-0 and EF-1 with estimated gust wind speed below 110 mph, and about 95 percent are classified as EF-2 or less with estimated gust wind speeds less than 135 mph. For smaller commercial structures, good construction choices can give added protection and increase the likelihood at least part of the structure will remain standing to provide shelter from these more common storms. For example, buildings strengthened in critical areas (particularly between the roof and walls, and walls and foundation), have a better chance of surviving a EF-0 or EF-1 tornado with minor damage.

Mitigate Your Tornado Risks
While there’s no way to eliminate all the damage of a direct tornado hit, businesses in tornado-prone areas can implement a variety of measures, which may help minimize damages to facilities, injuries to employees and losses associated with business disruptions. Consider the following to minimize the risk of tornado damage.

Protect Your Property
Wind-resistant construction can be cost effective and minimize the risk of structural damage from the majority of tornadoes. For new construction in a tornado-prone area, work with an architect or contractor to incorporate wind mitigation techniques, such as strapping the walls to the foundation and the roof to the walls to create a continuous line of protection, and using high wind-rated products, remembering to include safe areas for personnel.

For an existing structure not built to wind mitigation standards, consider retrofitting, especially when remodeling or replacing building components. Retrofitting may include bracing and strapping the roof to the walls; adding recommended fasteners, ties, reinforcements, roof covering and anchors; making entry doors and overhead doors more wind-resistant.

For additional information on protection for existing buildings, see “Protecting Commercial property” in the Tornado section of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) website.