Disaster Proof Your Home
In 2010, the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) Research Center launched “Fortified for Existing
Homes” to show how retrofitting older homes can bring them up to, or even exceed, the standards of new
disaster-resistant home construction. Fortified-improved homes are safer, more durable and less likely to
need major repairs after a disaster strikes.
“If you’re already reroofing, for example, that’s an opportunity to fasten the roof deck with ring-shank nails,
apply a secondary moisture barrier over the seams between sheets of sheathing and use high-wind-rated roof
covering,” says Timothy Reinhold of the IBHS Research Center. “Adding strapping is practical when the
walls are stripped for re-siding, exposing the structural members.”
In 2011, 14 extreme weather events have resulted in at least $14 billion in insured property damage across
the United States and its territories, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Of that total, more than
800 tornadoes have resulted in more than $11 billion in insured losses, and a single blizzard caused more
than $1 billion in insured damage. Statistics like these help clarify the urgency behind the work being done at
the IBHS Research Center, which seeks to identify what makes homes and commercial buildings most
vulnerable and to develop real-world solutions that can make them safer.
Fortified Homes Are Stronger and Safer
The laboratory at the Center is big enough to accommodate a pair of two-story houses and subject them to
140-mph winds generated by 105 fans. (The average wind speed in a tornado is 112 mph.) After the fans
were turned on for the first time, the wind blew in the front door of the conventionally built house, adding
internal pressure that quickly reduced the structure to rubble. The other house remained standing, thanks to
building upgrades specified in the IBHS Fortified for Safer Living (FFSL) construction program. The cost
differential between the two demonstration houses was just 3 to 5 percent—a small cost for invaluable
peace of mind.
Visit www.disastersafety.org/fortified to learn more about how to fortify your home.
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Reprinted with permission from Liberty Mutual. 2011 Liberty Mutual Group. All rights reserved.