Watch: Buildings blown down for research

2:27 PM, Jul 19, 2012   |    comments
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Richburg, South Carolina -- At this time of year, it's natural to worry about the threat of severe weather and hurricanes.  But it's not only our homes that are threatened.

In 2009, high winds caused more than $7 billion in damage to commercial properties in the United States.

The Tampa-based Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) recently conducted an experiment at its resarch facility in South Carolina to see how typical strip mall buildings could stand up to high winds.

IBHS built two commercial buildings that were basically the same, with similar floor plans and material.  The only difference was that one of the buildings was reinforced with just a few enhancements recommended by the insurance industry.  It had reinforced walls that were tied to the roof.

Both buildings stood up well during a severe thunderstorm simulation. But after shooting debris through the front glass windows and cranking up wind speeds to 136 mph gusts, the building that wasn't reinforced lost its roof and moments later its wall.

The costs for those reinforcements were just over $3000, or less than five percent of the total cost of the collapsed building.

"This is a difference in performance that you can achieve with really small mitigation techniques for your building," said Dr. Anne Cope, Director of Research for IBHS. "This is why you should care."

You can learn more about protecting your home or business from natural disasters at the Institute for Business and Home Safety's website.

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