Having recently returned from a trip to Tornado Alley, during which I was ripped from my slumber one night and told to get the hell out of bed and down to the basement, I can sympathize with Steven Anderson's life in Joplin, MO. The idea for his Tuuli Armor Tornado Shield, a mobile, puncture-resistant protective cover, came after his own family was hit by an EF-5 tornado in 2011. In a home without a basement or designated tornado shelter, they spent the duration of the storm underneath a mattress on their hallway floor.
Now they have a 60 "x 85" blanket made of ballistic nylon that shelters them from winds and thwarts flying debris, and then rolls up neatly into a 22" x 9"duffel that fits in a closet when the skies are clear.
While Tuuli Armor Tornado Shields are not meant to replace safe rooms and basements, Anderson's research shows they will provide a superior layer of protection to those without more robust options. He notes that over 90% of those injured in tornadoes suffer lacerations from flying debris. That, plus the potential for human air lift, Tuuli Armor can ward off.
During tests of the Tornado Shield's ballistic nylon, Anderson followed national protocol for bulletproof vest and safe room testing. (You can read about those specifics on his IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign page.) The standard test for a safe room entails firing a 15-pound wooden 2 x 4 at 150 miles per hour. Tuuli Armor's projectiles were lighter, but ejected at speeds of 200 to 260 mph. They included: a 1/4-pound spike made from a 1.3" diameter wood rod sharpened to a point; a 5-ounce, 3/8" round steel rod (simulating rebar); a 3-ounce projectile with glass affixed to the tip (simulating a 25" square sheet of glass); and small glass fragments.
None of the test projectiles penetrated the Tornado Shield. The glass, launched at 200 mph, created a small prick in the armor's surface when it struck perpendicularly. The metal rod also didi a number on both a wooden 2 x 6 and 1.4" of plywood.
Tuuli Armor Tornado Shields can be used in a bathtub, closet, hallway, car, RV, or semi, or in the basement as an added layer of protection. Their bottom layer is a non-coated rip-stop nylon that keeps them breathable and weight is a fairly manageable 13 pounds. Intentionally designed with no openings, the Shields' air lift should be minimal during tornadoes' high winds, and their flexible design also helps reduce the chances of going airborne.
Tuuli Armor Tornado Shields seek IndieGoGo crowdfunding through October 8, 2014.