How to Check Your Home After a Tornado Strike
Tornadoes are more than just swirling wind. They can obviously be dangerous for people, but can also cause devastating damage to cars, homes, commercial buildings and even entire communities. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), there were 1,059 tornadoes in 2016, down 16 percent from the 1,259 in the previous year. Once the wind has died down and you’ve accounted for everyone’s safety, it’s time to inspect the aftermath and identify potential tornado damage.
Follow General Safety Precautions
Of course, you need to be sure it’s safe before you start inspecting your home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Ready.gov offer some general safety precautions that can help prevent injury after a tornado and tips for entering a home that may have been damaged:
- Listen to local officials for updates and instructions and do not enter damaged buildings or homes until local authorities indicate it is safe.
- The CDC suggests you turn off utilitiesas a precautionary measure (if they were not turned off before the tornado strike) and call the appropriate services immediately.
- Wear sturdy boots, work gloves and long sleeves to avoid injury from storm debris.
- Look for exposed nails, broken glass and other common post-storm hazards.
- Report any downed power lines to police and to your utility company. (Don’t go near or touch any object in contact with downed lines).
- Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights as light sources, not candles.
Inspect Your Home Safely
Once it’s safe to enter your home, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) recommends you focus on the following areas during your post-tornado inspection:
- Check for broken tree branches, which may pose a safety risk by obstructing access to your home or may be contacting power lines.
- Safely check damage to windows and exterior doors.
- Check gutters and downspouts for damage or drainage blockages.
- Before turning on the gas and water service, check all appliances and turn on only when authorities confirm it is safe. Contact the utility professionals if you do not feel safe turning on the water or gas service.
- Dispose of perishable foods left in the refrigerator during a power outage.
- Check for structural damage to walls and windows.
- Inspect the basement, crawl space and attic for moisture intrusion.
Taking a cautious, deliberate approach when you return to your home for inspection can help keep you and your family safer after a tornado.
Originally published April, 2014.