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A construction-research organization issued an inspection checklist for mobile homes on Monday, just a few weeks after a tornado outbreak killed 34 people in Kentucky and Southern Indiana, most of them in such structures.
“I think it’s the first and best thing that’s come out in a long time” to help owners of mobile homes, said Larry Tanner, a wind engineer with the Texas Tech University Wind Science and Engineering Research Center.
No matter how well-built and anchored a mobile home may be, if there’s a tornado alert, residents of mobile homes should get to their own storm shelters or some other safe place quickly, Tanner said.
The Insurance Institute for Business Home Safety makes the same point in its introduction to its Manufactured Home Inspection Checklist.
“Never try to ride out a hurricane or tornado inside a manufactured home,” the checklist says. “Even manufactured homes with tiedowns overturn in these storms because they have light frames and offer winds a large surface area to push against.”
The checklist says 31 percent of the 823 people killed in tornadoes nationwide from 2006 to 2011 died in or running away from mobile homes. It adds that the National Severe Storm Center says the occupants of mobile homes “are 10 to 20 times more likely to be killed in tornadoes than those in conventional homes.”
About 8 percent of the nation lives in mobile homes.
In Indiana, the March 2 tornadoes killed five people in mobile homes in Washington County, two in Ripley County and one in Scott County. In Kentucky, 16 people died in mobile homes in five counties.
The checklist’s 25 suggestions range from basic common sense to technical guidance. They include:
If there are trees nearby, prune or remove them if possible, especially pine trees 12 inches or more in diameter.
Are the concrete blocks in piers supporting the home facing upward? Concrete blocks are designed to support more weight if the holes in them are facing that way.
Are there wooden wedges between the supporting pier and the home’s steel frame to level the home? If so, replace them with a concrete cap if possible, because such wedges can be blown loose in a storm.
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