Every year between March and August, weather forecasters and storm chasers keep their eyes to the sky, looking to see if conditions are ripe for the development of tornado. These environmental disasters have been known to devastate communities because of the extreme wind gusts and thunderstorms that they foster and should they develop, they usually form in this five-month period.
As with other weather-related events, safety experts have made resources available for homeowners so that they are prepared for tornado and where within the home they should reside if one is in the forecast. But something they may be less familiar with is what they should look for after a twister blows through to ensure that damage wasn't done.
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (IACHI) has a list of some of the parts of the house that should be examined following these types of storms.
Check for damage to gas, electrical lines
The outside of the residence needs to be given a thorough house inspection and should be checked out as soon as it's deemed safe to do so. Not only should the roof and siding be looked at, but depending on how strong a tornado was, a gas leak may have formed. IACHI says homeowners should check to see if any uprooted trees caused damage to gas pipes that are around the residence.
While they're at it, they should also be on the lookout for signs of electrical damage. Frayed or exposed wires is a clear sign that the home's electrical system has been compromised, thus requiring the assistance of an electrician to fix. If it hasn't already been done, ensure that the home's power source has been turned off by accessing the circuit breaker. This will prevent professionals and the homeowner from being shocked if they touch the wires, but to err on the side of caution, homeowners shouldn't go anywhere near fallen power lines. Leave their removal and repair to the experts.
Did leaks form in water pipes?
Another problem that can result from a tornado is damage to a home's plumbing system. With another person in tow, IACHI says it's a good idea to turn on all the faucets in the house, checking to see if any leaks or cracks developed in the water pipes. Homeowners will also want to look at their ceilings. Discoloration in certain parts of the ceiling suggest that a leak may have developed.
Inspect chimney for cracks and fissures
Few things have the type of strength that can cause severe damage to a chimney, but a tornado is most certainly one of them. Of course, the chimney is the outlet through which smoke leaves a home whether from cooking or the fireplace, but it's also a crucial ventilation point. And should there ever be a carbon monoxide leak, chimney damage can prevent this gas from escaping. IACHI advises taking a look at the chimney to see if cracks formed. Homeowners can then get in touch with a professional chimney sweeper to see what, if anything, needs to be done to correct this issue.
Tornadoes take place often and all over the U.S.
According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association, there have been approximately 225 tornadoes that have developed in the U.S. through the first four month of 2013, based on preliminary estimates. That's considerably less than how many developed over the same period in 2012, when just under 500 occurred nationwide.
The Insurance Information Institute reports that since 1990, the U.S. generally sees more than 1,000 twisters each year, averaging wind speeds of approximately 300 mph. They typically take place in the Midwest and Great Plains, but they have been known to develop in the Northeast and other regions where they're not as likely given climatic conditions.
Thus, with the prevalence of these natural disasters occurring, homeowners would be wise to take a long look around their homes to ensure they're as ready as can be should one take place in their area.