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Photo courtesy of L.A. Tony K

Simply put, I call BS.

In a recent article in the Clarion Ledger out of the (great?) state of Mississippi, writer Jerry Mitchell is adamant that manufactured homes are death traps.  Death traps! Hyperbole much?

I used to worry about the quality of manufactured housing and had those concerns reinforced by the insurance industry over the years, until I learned some new information about government mobile home classifications (Check it out…I write about it in my past post Mobile Home Insurance- Some new information!) that led me to do some research on housing standards.

A mobile home manufacturer once informed me that our homes must be built to withstand travel to wherever folks have prepared their property for delivery. This means the home must be exposed to the elements at travel and head-wind speeds of more than 80 mph on the highway and must withstand rough terrain while hauling them into obscure places, often down country paths and they stay together to be joined and made into a whole home that lasts for decades to come.  Federal law stipulates the requirements in the Federal Registry document “Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards-Specific Requirements for Designing the Transportation System”

The sound in the video below is a bit hard to track, but the visual speaks for itself regarding the ability for a manufactured home to withstand heavy winds.

With proper site preparation and tie downs, these homes should be as safe as any stick-built home in my humble opinion.  After all, since the new HUD standards of 1995, these homes are built with many of the same materials as stick-built.

In the article, Mitchell writes,  “In 2007, tornadoes struck Lake County, Fla., and killed 21 people.” “All of them were in mobile homes,” Simmons said. “People are dying in storms where they wouldn’t die in permanent homes.”

This may be, but perhaps that mobile home park was the most significant living area in the path of that tornado. Perhaps the highest density of people who were home at the time of the tornado were those in mobile homes rather than stick-built homes.

In other words, there are so many variables that could be contributing to people in mobile homes being killed in tornadoes that just simply the fact that they are in a mobile home at the time is not enough to confirm that it is, indeed, manufactured housing that is failing these folks.

An article dated May 1st at KOAA news states that “57% of deaths have occurred in mobile homes.  28% of deaths have occurred in vehicles.  14% of deaths have occurred in homes.” Personally, I see this as an indictment on the path tornadoes take and the fact that that if they hit a mobile home park, they will hit more homes at once, as these parks concentrate more homes per square yard than regular stick-built neighborhoods often do.  These statistics are really subjective and loose assumptions are being made.

This is not a negative commentary on people who live in mobile homes, because we are, in fact, people who live in a mobile home.  But it must be pointed out that many who choose to live in mobile homes live on smaller incomes.  Many of them may just simply ignore warnings to leave their homes due to the fact that all they have may be in that home. This could also increase the danger of being injured while staying in the house.  One more reason why the perceived “facts” represented in Mitchell’s article are suspect.

In “Tornado Alley”, or the stretch of land from most of South Dakota spanning to Dallas, TX, many of the home owners have been convinced that they cannot build homes on basements because of the rocky terrain.  And yet, many companies sell underground storm shelters to those same residents.  Go figure.  Homes in these areas are spread out due to farming and greater sized land tracts. The odds of a home being hit are lower than many homes in a mobile home park being hit. And it follows that more people would die in mobile homes due to this discrepancy.

It is only my opinion, but if you choose to live in an area in which tornadoes are regularly tearing about neighborhoods over and over, it might be time to move, whether you live in a manufactured home or a stick-built home. This goes for those who live in fire-prone, earthquake prone, landslide prone, winter storm prone, hurricane prone, heat-wave prone, areas of our great nation as well.  Regardless of where you live, there will be dangers.  Be smart. Look for a safe manufactured home built to HUD standards and have it installed in the safest way necessary for where you live.

While it is true that mobile homes and trailers have been known to last many decades (some 40-60 years depending upon level of care!), and many of these older single-wide homes may be built to lower standards, to claim that all manufactured housing is dangerous and less viable in a tornado is simply irresponsible for this “journalist”, Jerry Mitchell of the Clarion Ledger.  Be sure to let Jerry know what you think by calling (601) 961-7064.

If you are still concerned that, as the article states, that “they are not built to any kind of code”, please refer to the full document “Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards” for the full list of construction requirements for modern manufactured homes.

This is just me railing on about “journalists” speculating and assuming things and reporting them as fact. So, please, forgive me for a post that is not my normal happy-clappy tale! I promise, next post will be back to great project ideas. If you like this post, please take a moment to share it with your friends.

End of rant!

Happy mobile home living,
The McGees