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Are Crawl Spaces Safe During a Tornado?

Are Crawl Spaces Safe During a Tornado?

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There are many reasons to build a crawl space for your home; from additional elevation for the house to easy access to electrical wirings. Are crawl spaces safe, though?

We’re happy to report that crawl spaces are safe as long as they’re clean, well-maintained, and have a strong foundation that doesn’t pose any structural issues. In addition, a crawl space can even be used as a shelter during calamities if there are no other viable options.

Read on to learn more about crawl space safety!

Are Crawl Spaces Safe in a Tornado?

It’s a fact that the best place to be during a tornado is in a basement or any below-ground room that has no windows. What if you don’t have a basement, though?

What if your house only has a crawl space? It’s close to the ground, similar to a basement, so is it safe to be in a crawl space there during a tornado?

The answer is yes. If you have no other shelter options available, you can wait out the tornado in your crawl space.

There are certain risks that you must take into consideration, though. For one, your house has to be structurally sound—and we mean it!

Since a crawl space is a small area between the ground and your entire house, you don’t want anything breaking or collapsing on you.

For your crawl space to be a safe shelter during a tornado, you have to ensure that your house can withstand the calamity, which is better to be confirmed by a professional.

In addition, crawl spaces usually have electrical wirings and plumbing systems in them. Before using your crawl space as a shelter for tornadoes, ensure that there are no wires or pipes that can hurt you while you’re in there.

How Do I Prepare My Crawl Space for a Tornado?

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can prepare your crawl space and ensure that it’s a safe shelter option during a tornado.

1 – Check Your Foundation

We’ve mentioned that your house should be structurally sound, which has a lot to do with your home’s foundation.

Check your foundation and see if it’s made of materials that can withstand the winds generated by a tornado. Usually, solid concrete and other concrete forms are ideal.

Note that wooden foundations can be considerably weaker than concrete and may increase your house’s chances of collapse.

2 – Check the Area

Aside from knowing your foundation, make sure you check the area, too! Is your location prone to flooding? If so, a crawl space might not be a good idea for a shelter.

Is your house surrounded by woods or trees, making the area under your house prone to wild animals taking shelter there too? If so, it’s probably not a good idea for you to take shelter there.

3 – Map the Space

Another important preparation is to map the crawl space. Avoid spots that are directly under heavy appliances like couches or large cabinets.

Even if the chances for collapse are slim, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you map the area, you’d know where the safest spot to stay would be.

Ways to Practice General Crawl Space Safety

You generally want your crawl space to be safe for you or whoever goes on there, regardless of a tornado or any other natural calamity.

Below are three ways to practice crawl space safety.

1 – Keep the Space Clean

Crawl spaces can accumulate a lot of dirt and debris, especially when not given the right amount of attention. Make sure you keep the space clean and free of any trash to avoid unwanted bacterial or fungal growth.

Since crawl spaces are usually moist and aren’t exposed to a lot of sunlight, they’re perfect environments for mold growth. To combat this, you can install ventilators or air vents into your crawl space so humidity doesn’t build up in there.

2 – Fix Structural Issues Immediately

Crawl spaces are prone to problems like structural damage and wood rot because there’s usually a lot of moisture down there. When you spot these issues, you should fix them immediately.

Problems like wood rot can spread and advance quickly if you don’t put an end to them as soon as possible. If you notice signs of wood discoloration—usually yellow or beige—and breakdown, you may have to contact a professional to check for damage.

These structural issues can make your crawl space less sturdy, which poses the risk of caving in when somebody goes in there.

3 – Keep Animals and Pests Out

Watch out for wild animals and pests making a home out of your crawl space. You can seal any openings to avoid having encounters with any critters or creepy crawlies. You can also clear the area near the space—trim bushes and make sure no spots appear as attractive homes to pests.

Remember, if you see any wild animals in your crawl space, don’t attempt to lure them out or capture them yourself. These creatures can carry viral diseases, like rabies, that they can pass on to humans through bites.

Final Thoughts

So, are crawl spaces safe? Generally, yes! However, since certain risks go along with having a crawl space, there are precautions you have to take to make the area much safer.

For natural catastrophes such as tornadoes, a crawl space is a decent shelter option if you don’t have a basement. That said, it’s not the most recommended option, as there’s still the possibility of your house collapsing, especially if it’s not structurally sound.

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