Thwarting Disaster With Steel Buildings
Natural disasters have threatened buildings since mankind built the first mud and wattle hut. With the increase in severe weather events, hurricane, tornado and flooding damage are on the rise, with an attendant increase in insurance costs and building damages.
In addition to the weather, earthquakes and tsunamis take a yearly toll on buildings and human life. When low-grade or none-existent building codes combine with a poverty-stricken populace - as they often do - the death toll from a natural disaster can soar into the thousands.
Safety with Steel
While it's important to remember no building is 100 percent safe from natural disasters, a steel building can survive weather or earthquakes which would flatten other structures. While stronger and more durable than other building materials, often it's steel's flexibility which allows the building to survive.
If you've ever watched palm trees bend in the face of heavy winds, you understand the benefits of flexible building materials. The flexible palm survives hurricanes which uproot much larger, seemingly stronger trees. By bending into the wind, the palm tree avoids taking the full brunt of the storm.
People think of steel as heavy, strong and rigid, but in fact the metal is surprisingly flexible. This flexibility allows the component pieces within a steel building to flex and shift slightly in response to external pressures.
In response to pressure, steel buildings tend to bend rather than break, and much like the palm tree, return to their original positioning when the pressure weakens. In addition surviving the howling, high-speed winds of a severe storm, this feature also keeps steel buildings standing during earthquakes, which shake more rigid structures apart.
Light Metal Roofs
Adding metal-coated roofing material to a steel building is an additional protection; much like hiring corporate signing services adds an extra level of fraud protection to standard due diligence practices.
Metal-plated roofing is significantly lighter (and more flexible) than other forms of roofing, including asphalt, slate, tiles and shingles. Should the wind tear roofing off the building, the lighter material is less likely to cause damage than its heavier counterparts.
Metal roofing has a distinct advantage in earthquake zones as well. Should the building collapse, lighter materials reduce possible damage, and increase the chance of survival for anyone caught under the wreckage.
Natural Disasters and Construction
A building is never as vulnerable to natural disasters as it is during construction. In areas such as the U.S. southeastern seaboard, where hurricanes are an annual occurrence, the speed with which a building goes up greatly affects its risk of damage during construction.
Prefabricated steel buildings come pre-drilled and pre-punched, allowing for rapid construction. This makes steel an excellent building material for locations when natural disasters are a matter of "when" rather than "if."
While a steel building's flexibility plays a major role in its ability to withstand natural disasters, the metal's strength is also a factor. During a hurricane and tornado, high winds tear into buildings, and airborne debris can smash into walls or roofs, causing extensive damage.
Steel can survive wind speeds which would flense the vinyl off a wood-based home, and endure debris impacts capable of punching through wood or even concrete. Steel may take some dings and dents under such conditions, but cosmetics damage certainly beats having your siding shorn off by high winds.
Know Your Risks
As noted, a severe natural disaster can damage any building, even steel. Before starting construction, consider which natural disasters are most likely to affect your building. For instance, if you're in an earthquake zone, low rise steel buildings suffer less damage than multi-storey units. Pay close attention to local building and safety codes, which are designed with your location in mind.
Few, if any, buildings can avoid damage in the face of a server hurricane or powerful earthquake. With steel, however, you lower your risk of serious damage and protect the building's contents, both human and otherwise.
Michael is a full-time blogger who has passions in all corners of the online world. In his down time he enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and blogging on everything from technology, to business, to marketing, and beyond.