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Tornado and Open Windows: Safety During a Tornado
Tornadoes can happen at any time but are especially prominent during the spring and summer.
Because tornadoes are sudden and hard to predict, you may have only moments to get to safety.
There are many misconceptions surrounding tornado safety and how you can protect your home and property.
One of the pieces of advice many people have heard is that you should open your windows during a tornado.
But is this good advice?
Where Does the Idea Come From?
Tornadoes are weather events associated with strength and pressure.
Up until recently, people thought that if you equalized the pressure in your house with the high pressure storm that it was less likely to be damaged or destroyed by a tornado.
This idea most likely sprang from anecdotal evidence.
There may have even been times when one neighbor did open the windows and the other didn't . The home with open windows survived but the one without open windows didn't.
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that the open windows had anything to do with the house being intact.
Research shows that opening the windows likely has very little to do with the house or person surviving a tornado.
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The Truth About Windows and Tornadoes
According to many top meteorologists and weather experts, opening the windows does very little to protect you or your home and it may even cause harm.
Here is the truth about open windows.
- Opening windows may let in more debris, injuring people and property inside.
- A direct hit by a tornado will likely cause damage anyway.
- It takes more than just open windows to equalize pressure.
- Trying to open windows when a tornado is approaching wastes valuable time that could be spent getting to safety.
Is there anything you can do to protect your home from a tornado?
Even though the open windows may not protect your home, there are things you can do to make your home more tornado-proof.
Here are some ideas to consider when trying to make your home tornado resistant.
It is important that these ideas are implemented when the weather is nice and there is no threat of tornado.
How To Help Protect Your Home in a Tornado
Add stronger doors
Doors can be a weak spot in a house. There are thicker, stronger doors made to withstand wind and debris.
Add hurricane clips
Although you can find them on newer homes and buidlings in hurricane prone states like Florida, the clips, when added to the roof frame, can fortify homes in tornado alley as well.
Add storm shutters to the windows
This is another weak spot in your home. Adding storm shutters will protect against debris and add another layer of protection to your home.
Add stronger glass or material to sliding glass doors.
Sliding glass doors provide a great opportunity for debris and broken glass. New technology allows you to replace the glass with lamination, plastic or glazing.
Add a wind resistant rod to garage doors
This will keep the garage door from caving under the pressure from the wind, helping to protect your home.
While opening windows will not help to save your home during a tornado, these are ways you can give your home a better chance of survival.
It is important to remember that property can be replaced but people can't.
Do not make any preparations other than seeking shelter when a tornado is imminent.
Protect Yourself During A Tornado
While these are ways to prepare your home for a tornado, you should also prepare yourself and your family.
Personal safety during a tornado should be the number one priority.
Finding shelter in a basement or a room without windows is your best bet for staying safe as the tornado passes by.
You can add more protection by placing a mattress over yourself and wearing a bike helmet.
Remember to pay attention to all warnings and official orders by public officials.
These powerful storms are too dangerous to take any chances.
While there are no guarantees, protecting your home and yourself during a tornado will help you to get through the season.
What is your favorite tornado myth? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
References and Further Reading
- 8 Ways to Protect Your Home Against Tornadoes - How to Hurricane-Proof Your House - Popular Mechanic
If an EF5 tornado barrels over your home, there's not much you can do about it. But barring the very worst, there is a compendium of technology available to prepare for the high winds of tornadoes and hurricanes.
- How to protect your home from a tornado - MSN Real Estate
A twister can occur just about anywhere in the U.S. Here's how to be prepared, alert and safe.
- Tornadoes: Fact Vs. Myth | Weather Underground
Weather Underground provides local & long range Weather Forecast, weather reports, maps & tropical weather conditions for locations worldwide.
- Top Five Tornado Myths Debunked
Though everyone has seen a Hollywood tornado flick where a highway overpass has served as an effective shelter against an F-5 twister, officials say it's certainly not the recommended course of action.