IBHS natural hazard testing

Through "natural hazard" testing, researchers at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, known as IBHS, are identifying ways to fortify structures against storms.

Completed in 2010, the massive IBHS Research Center in Richburg, South Carolina is the largest facility of its kind in the world.

"We can do full scale testing in that we're the only place where you can build an entire building in 2,000 square feet,” explained Julie Rochman, CEO. “One or two stories, put it in here in our test chamber, then we can recreate a wide variety of natural hazards.”

The engineers at IBHS say they conduct the most accurate "natural hazard" testing available. In order to replicate Mother Nature's wrath, IBHS has 105-350 horse power fans which together can blow up to 135 mph. That’s the same wind power as a Category 3 hurricane. When those fans are at full tilt, a conventionally built structure loses a wall. But a fortified building only suffers minor damage.

From these types of tests, the IBHS team has identified effective ways to strengthen your home. They are:

• Using hurricane straps to tie the roof to the walls and walls to the foundation.

• Sealing the roof deck with tape.

• Swapping standard nails for ring shank nails.

Experts say these findings can help double or triple the strength of a home during a storm. It’s also cost-effective.

In the end, homeowners can only do so much to prepare a home against the worst and rarest storms such as an EF-4 or higher tornado. But scientists at IBHS stress that there is no reason for a structure to be damaged in winds of up to 110 miles per hour.