Preparing for Hurricane Season: How to Protect a Home
Florida is usually a target for storms, forcing thousands of individuals to evacuate with many fleeing to shelters.
Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and frequently peaks from late August through September.
“A storm that appears benign and doesn’t trigger an early evacuation makes a sudden turn, increases speed or intensifies significantly, and we are left with no time to get off the rock. The Labor Day storm of 1935 and more recently, Hurricane Michael, are prime examples, saysMonroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers”.
We need to be prepared. For those who stay home, it is valuableto know the impact of high winds and the best way to protect our homes and private property from wind damage. There are many ways to bolster a home against wind damage — while some preparation may require professional assistance some are simple enough to DIY.
Protecting a home starts with inspecting weak points and areas subject to damage like roofs, windows, doors and garage doors. Inspect siding more frequently and take care of our trees, trimming them when needed and removing them as necessary. Make sure your home is safe and have plans in place for severe weather events.
DOORS provide the first line of defense from high winds and blowing debris. While wind-resistant doors and break-resistant glass play a major role in fighting winds, interior doors are also important. In hurricane-force winds or when a tornado could also be imminent, all doors and windows should be closed. This will prevent pressure buildup within a home. Closing interior doors will help to compartmentalize damage from wind or rain should there be a breach within the exterior of a home.
WINDOWS are also the most vulnerable parts of the house. One option for stronger window protection is reinforcement with framing materials, including wood, aluminum, and vinyl. The second option is to upgrade windows to high impact glass.
ROOFinspections should be conducted at least once a year. While many roof issues may be spotted with the naked eye, a closer look may reveal previously undetected problems. Check for tree limbs, gutter system and backed up water. Particular attention should be paid to the perimeters of a roof where weakened material is often more easily lifted by high winds.
GARAGE DOORS are usually the largest moving parts of a home and create some unique challenges in hurricane-force wind situations. Start with a visual inspection of the roller tracks and panels. There should be minimal “wiggle-room” and light coming inside when the door is closed.
If a replacement is needed, consider an impact resistant hurricane-ready garage door that includes heavier hardware and more durable wheel and track systems.
HOME SIDING/EXTERIOROver the course of many years, siding is heated and cooled, potentially creating gaps or cracks and possibly even pulling away from the foundation. Wood siding can be compromised by moisture or insects. Older vinyl siding can bow and crack. If necessary, there are ways to fill these gaps with caulk and spray foam insulation. If the damage is critical, replacement of some of the siding is also prudent.
LANDSCAPINGproperly will help avoid creating projectiles from trees and limbs. Removing yard furniture, toys and outdoor tools are also very important. Larger items, like a backyard trampoline or a play house, should be disassembled and stored.
UNDERSTANDING WHEN IT’S BEST TO EVACUATE
Residents who are also impacted by a hurricane generally have many days to get ready. As part of the plan, preparations should be made to secure your property, notify family and friends of your intentions, and secure gasoline, cash, and needed food. If you’re not within the immediate impact area for the most damaging winds, you will likely prefer to stay home and “ride out” the storm. But when must you commit to evacuate?
In sum, if you’re told you must leave your home during a mandatory evacuation zone, you must leave. For this reason, you must become acquainted with planned evacuation routes for your area and depart within the required time period before the storm makes landfall in your area.
In these circumstances, you can rest assured with the knowledge that you are leaving behind a property that is adequately prepared and protected. Shutters or plywood have been installed over windows and doors, loose items in your yard have been secured, and all pets are taken care of and in a safe environment.
Perhaps the most significant action to take now is to let loved ones know of your plans and destination. Being prepared makes life a bit less stressful.