Watching the weather channel can be an exciting and nerve wracking experience when living in a hurricane zone. It’s no secret that Florida is in the direct path for serious hurricanes as they develop in the Atlantic. Depending on the storm’s course, regardless if you are on the East Coast, Gulf Coast, or anywhere in-between, you and your home could potentially be directly or indirectly in a hurricane’s path.
After you hope that the storm is downgraded, it’s time to get busy to protect your home. Besides the obvious of bringing in outdoor objects, trimming trees back, and having an ample food supply on hand, we highly recommend you retrofit your home with reinforcements to protect it and you as much as possible.
There are 4 critical areas of your home’s exterior you should consider strengthening. Even if you cannot do all of them now, it would be a good idea to address each item little by little. Sooner or later, you will have a reinforced, retrofitted home that will help aid your home in withstanding hurricane forces if they happen to blow through your area.
Below are our long-term recommendations as well as some short term/ temporary solutions that could help.
We suggest checking your roof shingles and tiles to ensure there is no damage. Make sure they are intact and that every single one is secure. If not, they’ll need to be replaced or fixed. Roofs are one of the first areas to be damaged in a storm or be the source of damage to your home because there were repairs needed before the storm came. As such, we highly suggest keeping a close eye on your roof throughout the year.
Retrofit Recommendation: Add hurricane straps to roofs and HVAC systems.
Does your roof and HVAC systems have metal straps holding it down? In a hurricane zone such as Florida, these straps are a good addition to any home. For the roof, adding hurricane clips to the existing trusses could be beneficial. When the time comes to replace your roof, we highly suggest considering adding hurricane straps. These straps are wrapped around the trusses and secured to the home’s walls. Your AC system can also be strapped down to reinforce it’s ability to withstand hurricane force winds. If you can consider adding these straps, many insurance companies will provide homeowner’s a discount, that over time, far outweighs the cost. We suggest hiring a qualified professional to install these straps to ensure they are installed correctly.
WINDOWS & DOORS
Retrofit Recommendation: If you don't have hurricane impact windows, consider adding hurricane shutters. Don't forget to add them to your doors, lanai area, and your garage windows.
When installing hurricane shutters, make sure you do your homework and see what type of shutter suits your needs. There are my types to choose from including roll down, accordion, Bahama shutters and more. In addition to considering the look, your cost and if you have HOA requirements to be met, one factor many overlook is the ease of closing up your home. When my husband is traveling, I need to ensure I can easily lock up the home without him. No matter what style shutters you choose, they should be installed by a qualified installation company.
Short Term Recommendation: Check those seals Seams and seals on your doors and windows will become worn or even damaged over time. Inspecting them and re-caulking is a simple solution to help ensure their performance. Make sure to carefully pay attention to the frame and window panes. Having the seals caulked properly can possible save you from unnecessary and preventable water damage after the storm clears.
Retrofit Improvement: Upgrade to an impact-resistant garage door.
Garage doors are extremely vulnerable during a hurricane. Keep in mind with high winds pounding against them, they are susceptible to cave in, exposing whatever is stored inside to damage. When having your new garage door installed, it’s important to remember NOT to remove it’s rating’s label.
Short Term Recommendation: Install vertical door braces and/or horizontal beams.
For a more budget friendly approach, we recommend you brace your garage doors from the inside because as mentioned above, they tend to blow inward. This could help minimize damages to your belongings inside the garage.
A great time to start securing - or retrofitting - your house is BEFORE hurricane season begins. If that's not feasible, do what you can, when you can. It’s never too early to prepare for hurricanes in Florida or no matter where you may live if you’re in a hurricane zone. Once you home is retrofitted, you will feel a little bit more secure when those storms begin to roll in.
For more information on Hurricane Safety, please visit DPNR