Tornadoes are more than just strong winds. A tornado can be dangerous for people, but it can also damage cars, homes, commercial buildings and even entire communities. 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. Consider these tips for checking your home after a tornado.
Follow General Safety Precautions
Before you start inspecting your home, be sure it’s safe outside and that you’ve taken some measures to help protect yourself. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Ready.gov offer some general safety precautions that may 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.
- If you think your home was damaged, turn off utilities, such as natural gas, electricity and propane, as a precautionary measure (if they were not turned off before the tornado strike). Call the appropriate service providers immediately for assistance.
- Wear sturdy boots or shoes, work gloves and long sleeves to help avoid injury from debris.
- Be careful to avoid 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 instead of candles to avoid a potential fire hazard.
Inspect Your Home Safely
Once it’s safe to go outside or, if you had to take shelter elsewhere, return to your home, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors recommends you focus on the following areas during your post-tornado inspection:
- Check for broken tree branches, especially those that pose a safety risk because they are obstructing access to your home or may be in contact with power lines. (Contact the utility company to remove branches that are on power lines — do not touch or try to remove them yourself.)
- Check for damage to windows and exterior doors.
- Look for damage to the roof and chimney. Contact a professional if you are not comfortable checking these yourself.
- Check gutters, downspouts and exterior drains for damage and clear blockages.
- Before turning utilities on, be sure authorities have confirmed it is safe to do so. Also, be sure to check all appliances for damage. Contact the utility companies if you do not feel safe turning on the water or gas service.
- Dispose of perishable foods left in the refrigerator or freezer during an extended power outage.
- Check for structural damage and broken glass.
- Inspect the basement, crawl space and attic for moisture.
Taking a cautious, deliberate approach when you inspect your home may help keep you and your family safer after a tornado.
Originally published on June 13, 2017.