Tiny Homes in Storms: How to Stay Safe

Tiny Homes in Storms: How to Stay Safe

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Keeping your home safe during storms has always been a concern for people who live in tiny houses. After all, a storm’s heavy rain and strong winds can do more damage to smaller structures. If you live in a tiny home, how do you keep yourself and your family safe from an incoming storm?

Much like in any disaster scenario, preparation is the key to safety. People who live in tiny homes need to prepare a list of things to ensure no harm comes to them. On top of that list is a contingency plan in case you’re in the path of a strong storm.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, on average, the US is visited by 10.1 named storms each year. Of that figure, more than half become hurricanes and about 25-percent changes into major hurricanes (category 3 or higher).

The same agency also stated that 40-percent of all hurricanes in the US hit the state of Florida. Furthermore, 85-percent of major hurricanes strike either Texas or Florida. Central America is also a place of concern, given that most tornadoes in the country are formed in this area.

In this post, we will talk about the different preparations you can do to keep yourselves safe in an upcoming storm. Likewise, we’ll also discuss the experience and accounts of some tiny home owners during extreme weather conditions.

Are Tiny Homes Safe in Storms?

Generally, tiny houses are safe in storms that are categories 3 and below. Many small homes are built with light but durable materials that can withstand heavy rainfall and moderate winds. However, owners also need to perform precautionary measures to ensure their safety.

However, there are also several reasons why you should be concerned about living in a tiny home during a storm. Unlike traditional houses and buildings, many tiny homes on wheels (THOWs) do not comply with the building code.

Some of the guidelines of this code include design parameters that can help your home withstand different types of calamities. Tiny houses usually have thinner walls and weaker structures compared to traditional housing options. Hence, they might not be as sturdy during earthquakes, storms, and other natural disasters.

Tiny homes still offer some form of resistance during storms and will not easily stumble unless against a major hurricane. For example, TinyHouseTalk reported a tiny home made by ESCAPE Traveller that survived Hurricane Irma’s 100 mph winds in 2017. 

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The Different Classifications of Storms in the US 

The United States is frequently visited by storms that range from weak tropical depressions to devastating major hurricanes. The US classifies storms a bit differently from the rest of the world. 

Below are the different classifications of storms in the US:

1.   Tropical Depression

A cyclone with 38 miles per hour (mph) or less maximum sustained winds. You can expect moderate winds and heavy rains that can cause minor flooding. While a tropical depression is not known for causing widespread depression, it’s rain can still cause significant property damage.

2.   Tropical Storm

When a Tropical Depression develops more power, it becomes a tropical storm. At this stage, it can have wind speeds between 39 to 74 mph. The amount of rainfall also increases, which can lead to massive flooding. 

Additionally, its winds can knock down branches of trees and even small structures. Everyone in the event should also observe emergency preparedness that power goes down. Everyone must be vigilant and be prepared to move into shelters when a public announcement for evacuation is released.    

3.   Hurricane

When the winds of a storm exceeded 74 mph, it is now treated as a hurricane. This type of tropical weather is known to cause significant destruction and can cause power outages that may last for days, even weeks. 

Hurricanes can also blow debris into your home and cause severe damage to even towering structures. Furthermore, it can also cause massive flooding in a vast area. As such, emergency preparedness should be kept as a top priority during these times. 

4.   Major Hurricane

When a hurricane’s winds get past the 111 mph marker, it’s now considered as a major hurricane. They are also known as category 3 and above storms. Hurricane Katrina, which struck Florida and Louisiana in 2005, belongs to this group. 

Major hurricanes can quickly devastate cities and cause large floods, storm surges, and massive damage to property. Its winds can quickly tear down homes and uproot trees. Evacuating your home is often recommended, especially when it’s on a direct path of the hurricane. 

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How to Prepare Your Tiny Home for the Storm Season

Preparing for a storm starts even before the news of an upcoming storm comes up. 

1. File an Insurance 

The moment you bought or built a tiny home, your first action should be to insure it. Several insurance carriers can give you personal property policy. 

However, you also have to make some concessions, such as putting your unit on a foundation. Some insurance companies also require you to live in your tiny home full-time. The average insurance for a small home costs around $600 a year. 

2. Anchor or Tie Your Tiny House

One of the best ways to prevent strong winds from turning over your tiny home is to use an anchor system. This usually requires screwing anchors into the foundation of your tiny home. You can also tie your unit into trees and other stable objects or structures. 

Anchoring your tiny home can prevent strong winds and hurricanes to lifting it once a gust of wind gets underneath the trailer. Most tiny home manufacturers suggest that a trailer up to 40 feet long needs 3 vertical tiles and 2 diagonal side tiles per side. 

3. Secure Your Roof

Roofs are one of the most vulnerable parts of your tiny home during a storm. Put weights, such as old tires, into your metal sheet roof to ensure they won’t be easily be blown away. 

Check if you have tiles or shingles that are cracked or broken. Replace them immediately to ensure they won’t allow water into your home when it begins to rain. Some roof tiles can also be fastened to ensure better protection against strong winds and rain. 

4. Prepare Extra Provisions

If your area is expecting a Category 2 or higher storm, it’s best to have extra supplies of your necessities, especially canned goods and drinking water. Make sure that your rations and hydration can last at least 3 days. 

Aside from food and water, here are some other things you need to prepare during disasters:

  • A few sets of extra clothing
  • Basic hygiene kit
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Whistle
  • Battery-powered radio

5. List Down Your Inventory

Make a list of every item in your home that is covered by your insurance policy. Some of the most reliable policies can cover up to 20-percent of the total amount of their homeowner’s policy. When listing down each item, provide details such as serial numbers for gadgets and a photograph of your jewelry.

Doing this will be quite helpful when you want to claim for your insurance policy. There are also apps that can simplify listing an inventory. Among the most popular ones include Sortly, Webgility, and Kintone. 

6. Secure Your Outside Items

Don’t leave any items that are outside your home. If you have a patio, wooden chairs, tables, and other exterior decorations, bring them inside. There is a good chance that they may get damaged through the storm or worse get carried by a tornado.

The general rule is that if it’s lightweight and can easily be carried, it should be stored inside your tiny home. Furthermore, don’t forget to bring in your solar panels and other removable add-ons as they are also susceptible to damage.

7. Prepare an Evacuation Plan

Leaving your home is always the last resort. However, there are times that it is necessary. As such, you need to know the nearest evacuation center in your area. Moreover, you need to know the safest route to get there.

If you live in Central America or anywhere frequented by tornadoes, you need to identify the location of storm shelters. Likewise, if you see a tornado approaching your place, the last thing you want to find shelter is inside your tiny home. Instead, get inside a sturdy building because it’s much safer. 

Photo by John Middelkoop on Unsplash

What to Avoid When a Storm is Coming Towards Your Area

Storms present different threats to your life and property. Just because it’s a low category storm, doesn’t mean you should not prepare for it. Aside from knowing what to do, you equally should know what you shouldn’t do.

Below are some things that you should avoid doing when a storm is on its way:

1. Don’t Park Your Tiny Home Near a Tree

When huge trees get knocked down due to strong winds, it can easily damage your tiny home. Hence, you shouldn’t park near it. If you are parking in a forested area, make sure there is enough distance between your tiny house and the nearest tree.

2. Don’t Stop Your Mobile Home Beside a Body of Water

If your tiny house on wheels is parked near a lake or sea, drive it out of there. Some storms can have a massive amount of rainfall, which can easily cause water levels to rise in these places. The best place to park is somewhere elevated and is not prone to flooding.

3. Avoid Using Your Phone Except for Emergencies

Storms can cause blackouts, which can last for days. One of the essential electronic gadgets you will need is your smartphone. During a storm, make sure to conserve its batteries because it’s the only means you have to contact for help or rescue.

4. Avoid Driving in a Stormy Weather

Never drive your tiny home during a storm. The heavy rains may lead to zero visibility on the roads, which can cause road-related accidents. If you have to move your tiny home, make sure you do it before the storm hits your area. 

5. Don’t Get Too Close to the Window

During a hurricane, you need to stay away from your windows. You’ll never know if a debris will hit your window and break the glass. As a safety precaution, make sure to cover your windows with thick blankets to protect yourself from broken glasses.

6. Don’t Be Stubborn

If the local government announced evacuation in your area, then you should comply. Leaving your tiny home and going through an evacuation center is much safer than being trapped in a storm. 

7. Never Leave Things to Chance

Finally, there is no such thing as being “too prepared” for a storm. Let go of the mentality of leaving things to chance. If you can do one extra step to keeping yourself and property safe, never hesitate to do it. 

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Different Damages to Tiny Homes Brought By Storms

There are numerous ways where a storm can damage your tiny home. The mixture of high-velocity winds and tremendous amount of rainfall can do a significant amount of destruction to your property. 

Below are some of the different storm conditions and the damages they can inflict into your home.

1. Heavy Rain and Floods

A storm doesn’t need to have wind speeds to be damaging. Often, a storm that has lots of rainfall can cause floods and even power outages. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), flooding devastates homes more than any other weather damage. 

Below are some of the things that floods and heavy rain can do to your tiny home:

  • Wood damage
  • Electrical damage
  • Molds and mildews
  • Foundation cracking

2. Hurricane Damage

Tiny house owners are often advised not to live in places that are frequented by hurricanes and for good reasons. Hurricanes can tear down homes in two ways- through sheer wind velocity or flooding. On the flip side, if your tiny home is mobile, you can temporarily relocate your home and come back when the storm is over.

If you ever encounter a hurricane while living in a tiny home, here are some things you can expect:

  • Roof damage
  • Broken windows
  • Structural damage
  • Electrical damage
  • Damage home paneling 

3. Tornado Havoc

Tornadoes are most common in Central America because it is here where the cold northern air meets the warm southern winds. The most damaging aspect of tornadoes is its powerful winds that can even rip home apart. 

Below are some of the damages that your tiny home may incur when it faces off with this extreme weather condition:

  • Damages from flying debris
  • Roof damage
  • Broken windows
  • Structural damage
  • Uprooted trees may fall into your home

Can You Weatherproof Your Tiny House?

Absolutely, yes. Weatherproofing is usually done in areas that are most vulnerable to different calamities. The good news is that because of their small size, weatherproofing your tiny home won’t take much time, money, and effort.

Below are simple steps on how you can weatherproof your home:

  • Protect Your Electricity

During storms and other calamities, one of the most vulnerable parts of your home is your electric system. As such, check for unstable connections and exposed wires in your tiny home. Furthermore, convert all your connections and cords to those with a weatherproofing guarantee. 

  • Rethink About Your Insulation

If you live in a tundra-style area or a place that experiences snow, you may want to consider your insulation. If you expect heavy snow in the area you are in; you may want to switch from standard insulation to heavy-duty. This way, your home can hold heat better and prevent the cold from entering your dwelling.

  • Secure Your Windows

Windows are the most vulnerable spots of any home because they are made of light materials and have no flexibility to resist strong winds. A broken window can spread glass all over your home, which can harm any of its inhabitants. A straightforward solution is to reinforce your windows using a sheet of plywood.

Conclusion

The only way to be safe in your tiny home during a storm is to be prepared before it even hits. Weatherproofing your mobile house and following all the guidelines we mentioned will help you overcome such disasters. 

Related Question

What is the tiny home model that can survive a storm?

Tiny houses came in a variety of designs and made of different materials. Some are even hurricane-proof and storm-proof by using some of the most resistant building materials. However, if you want a reliable home that can dish it out during storm season, we highly recommend container-type houses.

Are there tiny homes that can survive Category 5 Winds?

Yes, there is. One such example is Cubicco’s Cabana 8 feet by 12 feet tiny home, which sells for $17,000. This small home features steel support legs, lifting brackets, and insulation. 

The house can withstand 180 mph hurricanes, which is compliant to Florida’s building code. 

All About Tiny Houses is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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