You don’t need a tornado, hurricane, or blizzard for wind to wreak havoc on your church or school buildings. A windstorm can happen with a difference in air pressures. The result can crash debris into your windows, down trees on your property, peel shingles off your roof, and fling back the flashing.
According to the National Weather Service, a high wind warning is issued when sustained winds of 40 mph or greater for one hour and/or frequent gusts of 58 mph or greater are expected.1
Pay attention when a weather forecast includes the following types of damaging winds: straight-line wind, downdraft, macroburst, microburst, downburst, gust front, derecho, and haboob.2 These meteorological terms indicate the potential for isolated or widespread property damage. Downburst winds can exceed 165 mph.3
Far in advance of any windstorm, you can take steps to ensure that your property stays secure. Windblown debris can become projectiles that hurt people and damage property. Weak roof structures can peel off and allow rainwater to inflict further damage to your building’s interior.
Preventative measures. Protecting your property from high winds involves a multiprong approach that centers around creating a more secure exterior:
Remove any dead trees or overhanging branches near structures. If you live in a wildfire-prone area, follow the safety zone rules for vegetation provided in Avoiding Wildfire Damage, a checklist from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Wind-carried embers travel long distances and are the leading cause of property fires during a wildfire.4
Use a trained technician to inspect your exterior doors and garage doors. You may need reinforcement bracing. Garage doors can fail in a strong windstorm, which can lead to a roof collapse or blown out windows and walls.5
Protect windows with storm shutters. Only use shutters that have been tested, comply with local building codes, and have been professionally installed.
Anchor sheds, outbuildings, and outdoor signage to foundations.
Install weather stripping, roof seals, and roof bracing.
Inspect roofs monthly to identify loose materials, damaged shingles, and degraded insulation, especially following a storm.
Strengthen or anchor vents, soffits, and HVAC units to withstand high winds.
Secure edge flashing to keep the roof cover intact during high winds. Loose flashing allows wind to get underneath the roof cover and adds uplift pressure to the roof system.
Clean gutters regularly.
Brotherhood Mutual recommends using professional contractors or qualified staff licensed to work in your area. You may be required to adhere to specific or stricter building codes.
The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) developed FORTIFIED CommercialTM, a national standard for resilient construction able to withstand severe weather. You can learn about this affordable, effective program and find a certified expert at fortifiedhome.org/commercial. The IBHS offers a free High Wind Re-Roofing Checklist that you can take to your local contractor.
If a wind warning is issued, take the following steps:
Pay attention to local weather forecasts and bulletins issued by the National Weather Service and take shelter when it’s called for. Purchase a battery powered NOAA Weather Radio to use during power outages.
Close all interior and exterior doors, garage doors, and windows. This helps compartmentalize the pressure inside the building and reduce wind forces on the roof.
Shutter windows to prevent breakage and brace outside doors.
Prior to a windstorm, make a list of unsecured outdoor objects, like lawn furniture and garbage cans, that could blow away or crash into windows. If high winds come up with little warning, staff or volunteers can use the list to locate and store these items quickly. Be sure your list includes seasonal decorations and objects from patios and balconies.
Move ministry vehicles to concrete parking garages, if possible, or allow staff and approved volunteers to drive vehicles home, spreading the risk.
By using construction materials designed to withstand strong winds and performing regular property maintenance, you can help fortify your church, school, or campus buildings against the devastating and costly effects of wind damage.
1 “Wind Information Page.” National Weather Service, https://www.weather.gov/dmx/dsswind. Accessed 19 December 2019.
2 “Severe Weather 101: Types of Damaging Winds.” The National Severe Storms Laboratory, https://www.nssl.noaa.gov/education/svrwx101/wind/types. Accessed 4 December 2019.
3 “Straight-Line Winds vs. Tornado: What’s the Difference?” National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, https://www.weather.gov/iwx/2013_straight-line_winds_vs_tornado. Accessed 6 December 2019.
4 Apostol, Kent G. “Protect Your Home from Wildfire: Ember Awareness Checklist.” Utah State University Forestry Extension, NR/FF/036 (pr), https://forestry.usu.edu/files/utah-forest-facts/protect-home-wildfire-ember-awareness.pdf. Accessed 5 December 2019.
5 “Local Officials Guide for Coastal Construction.” Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA P-762, February 2009, https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1706-25045-9843/logcc_rev1.pdf. Accessed 20 December 2019.
Thank you for your interest in Brotherhood Mutual. We appreciate the opportunity to provide your church or other ministry with an insurance quote and will reply to your request as soon as possible.
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