Hurricane Katrina barreling into New Orleans. Superstorm Sandy wreaking havoc in New York and New Jersey. Tornadoes rolling through Kansas. Earthquakes rocking California.

The increased frequency and resulting devastation of natural disasters is alarming. It is no longer a question of if the next one will hit, but when and where.

There’s nothing we can do to stop these weather related events, but we can prepare for them by better protecting our buildings and the people who live and work in them. Mitigating the damage and saving lives should be at the core of any plan for building safety. Initiating a building repair program that incorporates safeguards might be the best way to help protect your building in the event of a natural disaster.

Protecting your building from the impact of a natural disaster requires ongoing vigilance. BUILDINGS Magazine suggests a five-step process to fortify your building.

  1. Research – Learn about the types and likelihood of the storms that might hit your area.
  2. Assess – Examine and evaluate your building for vulnerabilities and weaknesses.
  3. Fortify – Institute corrective building repair actions to address discovered weak areas.
  4. Plan – Hope for the best but plan for the worst. It could happen to you.
  5. Watch – Be vigilant and prepared to leap into action as soon as you become aware of an imminent threat.

Here is a look at specific weather related threats along with tips and recommendations you might consider including as part of your overall building safety improvement plan.

Building Repair & Safety Tips for Specific Weather Related Issues

Rain

Hurricanes, typhoons and tropical storms all feature wind-driven rains that can inflict serious damage on your building. A key to protecting against rain is to ensure the building envelope is secure. Identify and repair any leaks and make sure windows and doors are secured, sealed and insulated properly.

 

Roofs and walls must be able to shed water and minimize ponding. Landscaping should be sloped away from the building to avoid interior flooding.

 

Concrete walls can be waterproofed using commercial products like Sika’s Integral Concrete Admixtures and waterstopping systems that will keep rain from penetrating your building during heavy storms.

Wind

Your building must be able to sustain high winds that accompany storm related events. Again, maintaining the outer envelope of the structure so the building can withstand the extreme lateral and uplift forces is critical. Vents should be anchored to roofs and trusses and gables should be braced.

 

Windows are often the most vulnerable point of the building, so consider using shatter or impact resistant glass. In some areas of the U.S. – such as Florida – codes already exist mandating the use of “missile resistant” windows. Objects hurled through windows or doors by high winds can inflict significant interior damage.

 

Proper roofing material is critical in standing up to sustained winds during a storm.  Sika roofing systems have proven to be particularly effective in heavy winds. Mechanically attached systems using Sika roofing's unique Sarnabar to firmly attach a polyester scrim reinforced thermoplastic membrane to the deck; these roofing systems provide design flexibility and protection against hurricane force winds.

 

Lightning

According to the National Severe Storm Laboratory, lightning is the most dangerous weather hazard. Not only can it create severe damage by ripping through most building materials, but it also is capable of igniting fires that can exacerbate damage even further. Since thunderstorms are a risk in all parts of the country, every building is vulnerable to a lightning strike.

 

Installing a lightning protection system on your building can help mitigate the dangerous effects of a strike. This usually involves laying down lighting conductor tape to be run across and secured to the primary waterproofing membrane of the building.

 

Sika augments its roofing systems with lightning protection clips, which are simply hot air, welded directly to the roofing membrane. This provides a path for the lighting should it strike your building, while harnessing and dispersing the power of the lighting bolt.

 

Earthquakes

When it comes to earthquake protection, building design is influenced by the degree of seismic resistance required. This can range from prevention of non-structural damage in minor ground shaking to full avoidance of collapse in a major quake. Design elements for earthquake protection include shear walls, braced frames, moment resisting frames, base isolation and energy dissipating devices like visco-elastic and hysteretic-loop dampers.

 

Seismic resistance can be improved by increasing resistance of ductility of beams, columns, nodes and walls. Sika provides a range of products for earthquake strengthening for concrete structures, masonry, natural stone and timber.

 

Every building is unique and requires different mitigation and building repair techniques. For help in determining the appropriate protective actions to take to safeguard your building, consult your local Sika specialist for expert advice.