Prepare Your Home for a Tornado

Wizard of Oz Tornado GIF
Try to update your fences at least once per century.

Real talk: if a tornado wants to tear your house to pieces, there’s not a lot you can do about it, BUT if it’s a mild tornado, you can make your house more resilient by doing some maintenance. Here’s how you can tornado proof your home:

1. Roofs

  • Ensure the ridge vents can resist high winds. 
  • If you have a gable roof, make sure it’s properly braced.
  • If you are re-roofing, discuss wind-rated shingles with your contractor.

2. Soffits and Roof Vents

  • Use roof vents and soffits rated for high winds and wind-driven rain.
  • Regularly check the condition of soffit covers. Replace them if they are damaged or corroded.

3. Porches

  • Ensure that the supporting posts are firmly connected to the foundation and overhang.
Rule of Thumb

Not sure what some of these things mean? If you’re buying a new home, have your inspector check on the more technically challenging items on this list. Kill two birds with one stone.

4. Doors

  • Choose pressure and impact-rated doors.
  • Reinforce double doors. 
  • Add slide bolts to the top and bottom of doors.
  • Use heavy-duty deadbolts.

5. Windows and Glass Doors

  • Install storm shutters to prevent glass doors and windows from shattering.

6. Garage Doors

  • Strengthen garage doors with horizontal and vertical bracing.

7. Landscaping

  • Keep trees and plants around your home properly trimmed. Dead trees and falling limbs are a major source of damage during tornadoes.
  • Keep your yard clear of debris. Even small items can become deadly projectiles in high winds. 
  • Consider replacing gravel/pebble landscaping with shredded bark. Mulch causes less damage when blown by heavy winds.
  • If you park your car outside, check the placement of the trees around it. Will it be crushed? It’s a gamble, but you can make some educated guesses about the best place to keep it.

8. Outdoor Objects

  • Secure storage sheds, lawn furniture, garbage cans, generators, and patio umbrellas. These items could become airborne and cause damage during tornadoes.
  • Make a list of items that need to come inside at the start of a tornado watch. Keep this list in your emergency kit, and keep a second copy in a place you can reference it quickly, such as by your garage door.

8. Check your Insurance Policies

  • Make sure your home insurance policy covers damage from tornadoes. Most do, but you may wish to increase your coverage.

Your family knows what to do and your house is ready for impact! What do you do during a tornado?

Fallen tree on car post tornado
Someone should have culled their dead trees when they had the chance.

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.