We all look up at the great skyscrapers in the world’s biggest cities with awe. However, have you ever been in one of those buildings during a storm and felt your nerves on edge? Are tall buildings really safe when mother nature displays her power?
The answer is, it depends. Newer buildings have been held to stricter building codes, while older buildings may not be as safe unless they have been upgraded to fulfill building codes. For example, in 2005 after Hurricane Wilma blew out windows from the Four Seasons and Conrad Hotels leaving giant shards of glass on the street below, they were replaced with tempered glass that when broken, shatters into tiny cubes. It might be wise to research the structure of a tall building, especially if you work or live there.
If you find yourself in a tall building during a hurricane or high winds, what do you do? First off, close all windows and make sure the wind can’t get in. If air gets in, even through a cracked window, it can start demolishing walls from the inside out, because the pressure is so high.
Remember, wind speeds are stronger the higher up you go. If you are living in a high rise, you will feel the building sway. However, building codes are meant to allow some swaying, which is actually safer because it alleviates pressure caused by high winds.
If you are starting to feel unsafe in a high-rise office or condo, go to the stairwell. Staircases in buildings are reinforced with concrete walls, making them the spine of the building. During a hurricane, the stairwell in a tall building is the safest place to be.
Most importantly, if a storm is coming and you are ordered to evacuate, do so. There is no reason to stick around when it could put your life in danger. Even if you come out unscathed, you could still find yourself stuck because of flood water or debris and being out of reach of help.