Yurt Safety

How Safe Are Yurts?

Whether you’re staying in a yurt short-term, like a weekend getaway, or planning to live in one full time, you want to know that you are safe and secure. There are several yurt components to consider when we talk about being safe in a yurt.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStructural safety: Every Rainier Yurt is engineered and built with the highest quality materials using proprietary innovations and craftsmanship. Each one is designed and manufactured to withstand the harshest environments. We have deep roots in fabric structures, structural integrity, engineered loads, and strong project management. Built-in Rainier quality starts at the top with an exclusive ring-rafter locking system for superior safety.

eagle-tension-cableTension Cable: The tension cable is certified pre-stretched, load-tested, and engineered to 8,000 pounds! Your yurt walls will not stretch outward over time. The structural integrity of any yurt depends upon the perimeter tension cable that connects the rafters to the wall lattice.  Rainier cables exceed engineering specifications and are pre-tensioned to prevent future sagging. Our Eagle tension cable is 1/4″ aircraft stainless steel and is the only yurt offered with SS yachting grade fitting.

Foundation: Using our engineered  platform plans to build your platform to tolerance will ensure the strongest platform to erect your yurt. A SIPS panel may be an alternative worth looking into if you have several cold temperatures, are building on the edge of a cliff or other precarious situations, or if the yurt will be in an area with intense winds. The construction of your platform is critical to a sturdy yurt. Some folks pour sonotubes and others use pier blocks.  It is important that you follow our guidelines and that the finished diameter is within a few inches of tolerance to our specs.

Roof fabric: Roof fabric seams are welded using electromagnetic energy to fuse two 1″ overlapping edges of vinyl, thus creating one large piece without stitching. This strong construction will provide years of protection and safety from harsh elements.

Snow load: Each of our yurts (regardless of sizes and model) are engineered for a ground snow load calculation.  Features like our ring-rafter brackets ensure the strongest most efficient outdoor living structure ever devised. We customize every yurt based on the environment, elevation, wind, and snow load. Recently we custom engineered a 33′ yurt (855 sq. ft.) to withstand a 169 pound per square foot snow load!

Wind: All of the yurts in the Rainier Yurt family are designed to withstand between 95 m.p.h. and 105 m.p.h. wind resistance – this is based on the standard 3-second gust calculation used by engineers and architects.  To further ensure safety, we have a proprietary innovation called Eagle Blocks that add stability and prevent the rafters from moving or sliding.

Fallen trees: While there isn’t much you can to with the forces of Mother Nature, rest assured that we have put the very best components across the board into these yurts. Our rafters are solid Douglas Fir construction, the first choice of architects and engineers when specifying structural lumber. Each individual rafter is machine tested or MSR rated to meet the 2,400 rating in bending stress – 40% stronger than standard fir. Rainier uses kiln-dried wood (seasoned in a heated chamber) to bring the product to a pre-determined moisture content so it won’t stretch or shrink.

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Douglas fir has the highest resistance to applied load of all the North American woods. It is documented to have superior performance in actual use against strong winds, storms, and earthquakes. Rainier uses Northern grown wood, which has a slower growing season, resulting in a tighter grain and a higher density.  The northwest region of the U.S. is governed by environmental laws for protection of habitat, watersheds, soils, and biological diversity.

Chemicals, wood  stains, and VOCS: All of our fabric, vinyl and insulation components are treated at the mill to be water repellant, mildew and ultraviolet resistant as well as flame retardant. There are no chemical smells, or outgasses that penetrate the yurt. Our fabrication facility is nearly VOC-free. In fact, we don’t use any harsh chemicals to produce your yurt. We use a natural wood finish derived from Brazilian Rosewood Oil, which is less harmful to the environment than petroleum based product. The VOC is less than 1 gram/liter.

Burglary & theft: I rarely hear of vandalism or theft of yurts, and when I do the break-ins are often animals scavenging for food! The bottom line is, the lattice is on the inside of the vinyl wall AND the soft windows. The only people who can fit through the lattice are the size of an average six-year-old, and I don’t hear reports of vandals carrying fully charged sawsalls or hacksaws.  For the most part, yurts are respected and left alone in the wilderness, even when the owner is not at home.

Animal attacks: Like I said, yurts are most often broken into by critters, and we’ve designed our Eagle wall panels with this in mind! The wall comes in easy-to-remove 92″ wide sections – damaged sections can be removed and replaced for as little as $320 USD.  If it weren’t for this ingenious sectioned wall design, you’d have to replace the entire outer wall, which would set you back three to four thousand dollars and would take three to four times as long. Small tears can be patched easily, with just an inexpensive patch kit.

Pursing cable under platformProtection from the elements: Our exclusive designed pursing cable cinches the bottom of the yurt wall UNDER the platform to seal out weather and insects. This, in addition to the overlapping roof valance and insulation sections all work in unison to provide the best protection from the elements.  We definitely know about harsh elements! Rainier has been building tents for nearly 120 years, and when we acquired Nesting Bird Yurts in 2004, we added the experience of a company that first built yurts for the Isreal family in 1972. (Dana would like it to be known that she is not nearly old enough to have been around that entire time.)

Fire: The durable, top-of-the-line marine grade fabrics of the outer shell meet stringent fire codes. You can safely have a wood burning stove or propane heater inside your yurt with no worries. Our Eagle Army Duck Liner meets the Industrial Fabric Association Tent Spec CPAI-84 adopted by many states and the Federal Government as the fire rating standard and offers a margin of safety previously unavailable in canvas.

Flood: Every Rainier yurt includes a set of standard deck plans that will meet most client needs. However more municipalities are requiring plans developed for your specific site. We can fulfill that need with specifically engineered deck plans that will meet International Building Code requirements.  Rainier works closely with our licensed structural engineer to develop these engineered platform designs. Our yurt platforms are raised off the ground and work well on a variety of  terrain and grades.  We even thought of snow melt when we designed our yurts.

Mold and mildew: Yurts are like expensive RV’s – the better you maintain them, the longer they will last (and the better they will look!) The roof has an acrylic topcoat which is resistant to UV light, mold, mildew, and dirt.  Regular cleaning to remove dirt and debris will greatly extend the life of your yurt roof. Cleaning the roof is done in place with a long-handled soft mop and a solution of lukewarm water and mild soap. Do NOT use abrasives, bleach, detergents, or a pressure washer.  Use a clean mop and rinse often.

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The woven fabric sidewalls will clean virtually the same as the top.  Many customers report excellent  results using the following organic home remedy for cleaning he outside:

Mix 4 gallons of water and 1 gallon of white vinegar with about 1/2 cup of the unscented Dr. Bronner’s Pure liquid Castile Soap.  Use a soft bristle brush with a telescoping long handle to clean one section at a time, rinsing each section well before moving on.

We also endorse the 303 fabric and vinyl cleaner for stubborn stains.  303 Fabric and Vinyl Cleaner is your best choice for cleaning indoor and outdoor fabrics as it contains no soaps, detergents, or solvents.

Properly ventilated and maintained yurts will not accumulate mold or mildew. Some older neglected units may have stubborn mildew issues. If you try applying commercial mold and mildew cleaners and repellants from stores like Home Depot, test the product in an unnoticeable area first.

Installation: We provide a thorough installation manual so you can raise your yurt properly. You will use a variety of tools, climb ladders, lift heavy and awkward objects – use good judgement and common sense to stay safe.  Work within the group’s abilities and always put safety first. Rainier recommends that you hire licensed and bonded contractors for site work, plumbing, heating and electrical. In all cases, comply with building codes.

Inspect and maintain your yurt periodically to be sure the platform remains secure, the purse cable stays tight, the roof is cleaned as necessary, etc.

We believe that our exceptional quality and attention to detail are what makes Rainier Yurts elegant, comfortable, and – of course – safe.

Enjoy the journey!

~Dana

~Dana

Rate Your Yurt’s Fire Safety

Lightning strikes have caused several wildfires here in Washington state.

Photo from NPR.org

Photo from NPR.org shows the damage from the Washington state wildfire

My hat is off to the multitude of volunteer firefighters and my heart goes out to all of the victims affected by the hundreds of square miles (over 215,000 acres) of charred terrain in Washington State. More than 1,600 firefighters are battling the flames, assisted by more than 100 fire engines, helicopters dropping buckets of water, and planes spreading flame retardant.

Over 150 people have lost their homes – the entire town of Pateros was evacuated and an estimated 100 homes have burned to the ground in what had become the biggest wildfire season ever to hit Washington State.

As I tell people who ask about yurts and hurricanes, a yurt is no safer than a stick built house in this situation. If you are in a yurt in 150 mph winds – you should have your head examined!

The same advice applies here: if a wildfire is coming your way – pack your belongings, including medicine, important papers, animals (and their medicine and food) and get the heck out of there.

The best advice is to keep your yurt clear of debris and dried brush.

Here are some things to keep in mind during wildfire season

The roof is made of non-flammable materials, however a long-standing ember can melt through the vinyl. In the event a spark lands on your roof, have water ready to spray down the roof. If you do not have hoses or water pressure, keep a “super-soaker” toy water cannon and a minimum of 100 gallons of water on hand during the dry season.

Do you have a 30-foot defensible zone around your yurt and its attachments, including decks and fencing? A defensible zone means all ignitable substances (such as wood piles, dead leaves, brush piles, flammable vegetation) are removed.

Have you managed the vegetation in the 100-200 feet surrounding your cabin? This is your Yurt Ignition Zone. By reducing fuel load here you can reduce the intensity of an approaching fire. Thin your trees, particularly coniferous ones (with needles.) Trim the lowest tree limbs 6-10 feet off the ground.

Do you have screens over every opening into your yurt? This would include all doors and skylight domes, as well as windows. Screens prevent burning embers from entering the structure.

Is your yurt accessible to fire crews? Roads and driveways should be wide enough to accommodate emergency vehicles, and there should be a turn-around at the end of your drive.

Do you have an emergency plan? If you live on an “in-and-out” road meaning that is the only way in or out…think outside the box for emergency evacuation routes. Do you have a known place to meet family members in another location?

My family probably thinks it’s a little nutty, but we have a plan in place, should a natural or man-made disaster strike. Our plan is to meet at the base of the Space Needle (or where it was, depending on the disaster!) That means if there is no electricity, no cell phone service … we know where to look for each other! I encourage you to have a similar discussion with your loved ones.

If your yurt is located at the top of a hill, it may be more susceptible to burning. Fire preheats fuel in its path; consequently a fire burning upslope travels faster than a fire backing down a slope. South-facing slopes also dry faster than others, causing a fire to burn with more intensity.

Visit www.firewise.org to get more information.

Remember – most wildfires are either caused by lightning or can be linked to humans, cigarettes, welding equipment, and campfires. If you are glamping this summer, please be extra cautious and be prepared with a fire extinguisher.

A small investment that could save your big investment!

Enjoy your summer journey,

~Dana

~Dana

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