January 14, 2016
When spring storms arrive, a FORTIFIED® Home can withstand more.

Now that winter has arrived, you’re all thinking about ice, snow and staying warm, aren’t you, my studies? But one of the tenets of LivingWise is thinking ahead. And before you know it, spring — with its winds and sometimes severe storms — will be here.

It’s good that we look ahead now, so that we can be prepared in case milder temperatures bring us wilder weather. In regions like the Great Plains, Midwest and Deep South, where severe storms are more common, most families know to stock up their emergency kits (hand-cranked weather radio, flashlights, batteries, blankets and bottled water) and keep a wary eye on the sky during the annual thaw.

Stocking up on emergency supplies and reviewing disaster plans are wise things to do. But they also represent reactive thinking.

What if we could do more to remain safe?

We live in a time of great innovation, studies. How, then, can we apply the same principles that start-up companies use to disrupt markets — forethought, out-of-the-box thinking, smarter materials and such — to evolve our storm preparedness tactics?

Are there ways that we can improve our construction techniques? Can we engineer a frame and roof system that could better withstand damage from straight-line winds, falling tree branches and hail? Can we build safer commercial buildings to protect our businesses? Can we build homes that might give families better protection in a severe storm?

Our friends over at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) think we can. And they dropped by the LivingWise home to show us how, by helping us to build a FORTIFIED® garage.

What is a FORTIFIED® structure?

It’s a structure that’s built to an IBHS-developed code-plus standard — meaning that its construction requirements typically exceed the basic requirements of building code in most areas.

FORTIFIED® certification depends upon using IBHS-tested, approved building materials in specific ways to improve a structure’s resilience to wind and weather damage. Although there are never guarantees for survivability in a severe storm, buildings built to FORTIFIED® specifications have been shown to be more resistant to damage.

Some of the principles are quite simple — making sure that roof tiles are sealed and flush, so that wind cannot get into cracks and create lift, or connecting all parts of the frame with strong braces, then tying the frame down to the foundation. Those seem like common sense methods, but often, basic building code does not require them.

In some states, FORTIFIED® structures are eligible for premium discounts, or even construction subsidies, under damage mitigation programs. That makes the program not only wise for protecting your family or business, but a wise, money-saving investment.

Want to see a FORTIFIED® structure in the making?

Click here to watch how our IBHS partners constructed a FORTIFIED® garage at the LivingWise site. Once you’ve watched the video, I have some homework to assign to you.

Visit IBHS’ disaster safety website to learn more about resilient construction. You’ll see how they used advanced testing methods to develop their code-plus building standards, learn why they work and find out how building to a FORTIFIED® standard could positively impact your budget over time.

Spring is coming, my studies. Think ahead, be prepared and you’ll be LivingWise.