State civil defense's new weapon in safety - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State civil defense's new weapon in safety

Dr. Ian Robertson Dr. Ian Robertson
Ed Teixieria Ed Teixieria

By Diane Ako - bio | email and Tai Hiranaka

MANOA (KHNL) -- We're in the middle of hurricane season. Do you have your disaster kits ready and your house, hurricane proofed? If you don't, state civil defense officials have something to show you. It's a simulated test of what can happen to your house during a hurricane.

State civil defense partnered with the Univerity of Hawaii's engineering school to help prepare the state, and all its residents, for disasters.

You wouldn't want this to be your house during a hurricane. This was a demo with the state's new pneumatic wind cannon. Dr. Ian Robertson of the College of Engineering explained, "It's intended to simulate tree limbs or a 2 by 4 piece of wood flying through the air and hitting a structure."

To put it in perspective, state civil defense vice director Ed Teixieria swung a mallet and barely made a dent in the same plywood that the 2x4 hit. Dr. Robertson continued, "It's intended to show what wind borne debris can do to homes, windows, doors, and openings in a hurricane."

The state will use it to test buildings for hurricane resistance. Teixieria elaborated, "Could be screens we're trying to test. Could be wood or storm screens whatever we want to test for wind resistance. We can make judgments as to whether or not the material is worth investing in for retrofitting project."

The wind cannon shot the 2x4 at roughly the same speed it would be thrown in a Category 3 hurricane. Disaster planners want you to see this demo and start taking precautions! "One is to encourage people to include safe rooms in homes and put windows and door protections on the exteriors of their homes. The other is to demonstrate what happens to older single walled construction and to encourage people if their home hasn't been retrofitted so people to take evacuations seriously," said Dr. Robertson.

There are only four wind cannons in the country, but the state says this half million dollar investment is well worth it by improving safety and saving lives. The state will be able to start testing your materials, for a fee, in January 2009. Contact Dr. Ian Robertson at <> or (808) 956-6536.

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