Hurricanes cause billions of dollars in damage every year. Luckily some damage can be minimized by taking appropriate precautions around the home.
Debris from high winds can easily break unprotected glass and cause doors to fail. Structural damage increases if wind is able to penetrate a home. The most reliable method of protecting doors and windows is to install permanent storm shutters. Plywood can be used as a temporary measure for securing windows and doors. Cut plywood slightly larger than the window or door to cover. Attach the wood to the home using screws or lag bolts along the top, bottom and sides of the cover. Screws should be long enough to penetrate the wall studs and not just the home siding.
Garage doors are not designed to withstand hurricane strength winds. Reinforcing a garage door can help to protect the garage and its contents. Garage doors are complex and it is recommended to have a certified technician reinforce these doors. An alternative is a product by Secure Door. Secure Door offers an affordable solution for reinforcing garage doors during a hurricane.
Gable roofs are more susceptible than a hip or flat roof to strong winds. A common cause of major damage to homes and their contents during a hurricane is a roof collapse. The roof can collapse if the large, flat side of a gable is not adequately braced.
Inspect the gable roof to see if the roof framing is braced. It should be braced using two 2x4s crisscrossed through the middle section. Check with your local building department if you are unsure if your gable roof is adequately braced. Bracing can be easily added by a contractor for about $100 per gable end.
Composite shingles can be damaged or torn away if not securely attached. Inspect the roof to ensure each shingle is attached using a minimum of six nails (not staples) in each shingle. Shingles should be installed below the edge of the upper shingle, overlapping each row. A waterproof underlayment should be installed beneath the shingles to protect the building from rain if shingles are torn away. Roof sheathing should be at least 15/32 inches thick and secured to the roof trusses.
Metal roofs and sidings can be damaged in high winds if the metal panels are not securely fastened to the frame of the building. The strong winds can rip the metal panels off the building creating a deadly flying object. Debris from strong winds can also puncture meal sidings and make them susceptible to severe structural damage. Metal panels should be securely attached to the frame with screws spaced close together. All edges of the exposed panels such as corners should be covered with a metal cap or molding so wind cannot get underneath. Buildings within 3,000 feet of the ocean should use corrosion resistant fasteners. Buildings should be inspected and repaired regularly. Any loose or missing items, rust or damage can leave the structure weak and susceptible to storm damage.
Inspect the area around the home. All lawn furniture, garden decorations and any other outside items should be brought inside. Trash cans, yard debris and other materials can become missiles during high winds. Ensure that all trees are far enough away to prevent them from damaging your home if they fall. All storage sheds and other buildings should be secured with ground anchors. Secure barbecue grills by bolting them to a deck or patio or attach them using ground anchors with cables and chains.
If an evacuation order is given it is advisable to turn off electrical and gas services. Natural gas explosion are common during hurricanes due to leaks or electrical sparks. If you do not know how to shut off either the gas or electricity contact your utility provider.
Sandbags are a simple and effective way to reduce flood damage. Place sandbags around the perimeter of the home if high water is expected. Sandbags are an effective way to prevent or reduce water damage. Fill each bag one-third to one-half of its capacity. Place sandbags pyramid style to increase the height of the sandbag protection. Alternate bags placed crosswise with bags placed lengthwise. Using a foot, stamp each bag in place and overlap each stack. Tuck in any loose ends.