Is a garage safe during a tornado?

During a tornado, the last thing you want is to be caught in an unsafe place. That’s why finding a shelter and preparing in advance is advisable. Knowing where to go for safety is essential. So, is a garage safe during a tornado?

No, your garage isn’t a safe place during a tornado. Many issues make it a bad place, such as the lightweight construction, items prone to becoming projectiles, door, and location. However, you can make the garage safer by getting wind-rated doors, bolting shelves, and complying with codes.

However, improving the safety of your garage doesn’t mean you should stay there during a tornado. The safest place will be your basement or an indoor bathroom. Here, we discuss whether the garage is a safe place during a tornado.

Why is the Garage Unsafe?

The garage is one of the least safe places in your home during a tornado. Here are the reasons:

1.  Location

The location of the garage makes them very prone to storms and debris. They stick out of the rest of the building or are on the house’s perimeter. In that position, they suffer the most damage during a tornado, and you only need to go out and check your garage after the tornado to be thankful for not staying then.

2.  Garage Doors

Beyond the location, the door of the garage is its weakest point. It is usually the biggest opening in any house, making it an easy target for storms and debris. It’s only a matter of time before it breaks open against the force. Once the storms start blowing the doors, it’ll affect the supporting walls. The garage door serves convenience purposes for getting your car out and protecting your car in normal conditions. In tornados, it can’t do much.

Even if your garage is wind rated, it’s still not advisable to stay there. Staying in the garage means that anyone inside has to face the storm if the door is blown open. Beyond that, garage doors aren’t waterproof, which means water can enter your garage. During high winds like tornados, flash flooding is likely, and this may cause your garage to be filled with water. The risk is greater when you live close to lakes or rivers.

3.  Lightweight Construction

The construction of the garage is another issue. Garages generally have thin walls since it’s a lightweight construction. Even when they build it with concrete, it’s still weaker than a house’s walls.

4.  Full Of Dangerous Items

Your garage is pretty safe on a normal day. It contains your car, tools, and things you can’t put in the house. When facing high winds, all these objects can become very dangerous projectiles. If the garage collapses or wind can break, tons of items could be lifted by strong winds and could cause damage if they are airborne or collapse.

How To Make Garage Safer

Even though you shouldn’t stay in the garage during a tornado, you can still make the garage safer. This’ll protect your house and your property inside the garage. You can do that in the following ways:

1.  Get Wind Rated Garage Doors

If you live in a place that experiences lots of tornados, it helps get better doors. A study discovered that garage doors and window failures are part of the factors that lead to roof failure in houses. So, it’s best to protect the door. You’ll spend more to get a wind-rated garage door. Make sure that the wind pressure rating is high enough. But it’s not enough to get a strong door.

You also have to make sure it’s fastened and won’t collapse at the hinges during a tornado. Get a door brace to increase the resistance of your doors against the tornado. Protecting your garage can be the first part of protecting the entire house, especially when the tornado category isn’t at the highest levels. Reinforce your garage doors, and you can have some peace of mind that your garage is safe while hiding in the basement.

2.  Bolt All Shelves to The Wall

If you have shelves in your garage, you don’t want them collapsing during a tornado or any natural disaster. So, bolt the shelves and any other storage you might have to the wall using brackets. This ensures that if your garage doesn’t survive the tornado, you’ll still find some of the property intact.

3.  Ensure Your Garage Is Code Compliant

The garage door might be its weakest point, but there are plenty of other weak links. Ensure your garage complies with building codes. You can do this by inspecting the home regularly with a structural engineer. You don’t want to wait till a tornado hits before you discover the structural weaknesses in your home.

Safest Places to Be in Tornado

The best place to be in a tornado is in your basement. This is where you can completely avoid all the flying debris and the storm. While the basement might be the safest place, it has its risks too. The walls might collapse while you’re there, meaning you’ll have to dig yourself out. The basement is also prone to flooding. However, it has all the features that make it a great hideout. There are no windows which means the storm can’t get in. In addition, it has no weak entry point that the wind can blow open.

If your house doesn’t have a basement, the next best place is a room on the ground level of your home. Preferably, it should be a home that doesn’t have windows. It should be one that has several walls between it and the house’s exterior wall. Most people recommend the interior bathroom as this place doesn’t usually have windows. In addition, the walls are stronger because of the plumbing pipes. The bathing tub also provides shelter.

In Conclusion

Your garage isn’t safe in a tornado because that’s where any damage to the house starts. Unless the garage is underground, or you have an anchored storm shelter inside the garage, you should find safer places to stay in the house.

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