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Is a crawl space in a house a safe place to go in a tornado?

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Dear Tom,
Is a crawl space in a house a safe place to go in a tornado?

Roger Mitchell

Dear Roger,
When a tornado threatens, there is no absolutely safe place in a house, other than a specifically designed tornado-proof “safe room.” However, there are degrees of safety below absolute security. A crawl space is a possibly safe place, depending on the type of construction of the house. The crawl space of a house built upon a cinder block or wooden foundation will offer less protection than a similarly constructed house on a concrete foundation. However, especially intense tornadoes, though they occur rarely, have the capability to totally obliterate houses constructed on crawl spaces. Also, one must consider the location in a crawl space: ideally away from heavy appliances or furniture in the house above the crawl space.

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