Before hurricane season begins, there are steps you can take to reduce damage to your home and property. The first step is to walk around your home and look for vulnerable areas such as the roof, garage door, patio door, windows, pool and yard.
Getting gutters hurricane-ready
Assess the roof
- Hire a licensed professional to check your roof. Checking the roof yourself is dangerous and can cause damage.
- Shingles, tiles and panels should be fastened tightly and loose ones replaced.
- Asphalt shingles should be attached using hot-dipped, galvanized nails.
- Roof trusses should have braces and hurricane straps installed. Gabled roof ends should be braced by attaching the rafters at each end to the other trusses. The gabled end walls should be braced as well ( see diagram). If you temporarily repair a roof leak with tarps, check to ensure tarps are secured to the roof with wood strips, that are two inch by one inch, placed at 48 inches on center, especially to the edges.
Trim your trees
- Trim trees and shrubs regularly. Remove weak branches, especially those resting on your roof, and thin the upper canopy. Do not trim trees once a storm warning has been issued.
- Do not attempt to trim vegetation growing on or near power lines. Instead, contact your provider.
- Consult your city for specific restrictions regarding tree pruning. Hat racking and tree topping are illegal.
- Place properly cut and bundled yard waste at the curb in accordance with your solid waste provider’s
collection rules. However, do not place items at the curb once a storm watch/warning has been issued.
- If you are inexperienced with a chain saw, seek professional assistance.
- Make sure newly planted trees and recently reset trees are staked and braced properly.
Check all doors
- Solid wood or hollow metal doors are more likely to resist wind pressure and flying debris. Doors
should have at least three hinges and a deadbolt security lock with a bolt throw of at least 1 inch.
- Install head and foot bolts on the inactive door of double-entry doors. The surface bolt should extend
through the door header and through the threshold into the sub floor.
- Garage doors should have steel bracing. Check with your garage manufacturer for braces and
retrofitting kits. You also can attach wooden stiffeners that are two inch by six inch, running the
full width of the door, approximately 18 inches apart.
Shutter your windows
If you have shutters, now is the time to make sure they are in good working condition. For accordion or roll-down shutters, test to ensure they open and close easily and lubricate and clear the track of obstructions. For panel shutters, check for excessive wear or rust on the connectors.
- Using plywood may be a more economical way of covering windows, but may not offer enough protection. Metal hurricane-resistant shutters are preferred. If you use plywood, make sure it is as least 5/8-inch thick and use proper anchors and support beams.
- Shutters should be installed by a licensed professional and inspected to ensure they are in compliance with county/municipal building codes.
- Do not use tape! Tape will not keep a window from breaking.
- Do not leave a window open for equalizing pressure between the inside and outside of your home. It is not necessary and could be a dangerous mistake.
Protect your pool
- Keep water in the pool as it will protect the pool’s finish from sand and flying debris. You can lower
the water level, but no more than one to two feet. Otherwise, hydrostatic pressure could cause the
pool to pop out of the ground.
- Add chlorine to the water to prevent contamination.
- Turn off the power to the pool equipment.
- Remove the pool pump motor and store it indoors in a dry place, or wrap the motor in plastic material, such as a garment bag, and secure it tightly with tape or rope.
- Remove all loose items from the pool area (furniture, pool cleaning equipment, filter house tops, deck lids, etc.).
- After the storm: reinstall the pump, return water the normal level, clean pool thoroughly, balance the chemicals, super-chlorinate, and run the filter until the water is clean.
Building leaks and flooding can create moisture that accelerates mold growth. Mold can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions and continue to damage materials long after the storm. Failure to control moisture and mold can cause short and long-term health risks.
Residents should remove standing water from their homes or office and remove wet materials as soon as possible.
If mold growth has occurred, carefully remove or clean the moldy material. Consider using personal protective equipment when cleaning or removing moldy material. Never mix cleaners and disinfectants. Mixing may produce hazardous chemical reactions. Use bleach to clean hard surfaces. Mix no more than one cup of bleach in one gallon of water. Open windows and doors for proper ventilation when cleaning.
To determine your home's elevation, whether it is in a flood prone area or above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE), you must contact your County or city planning or zoning department. New construction and reconstruction is required to be above the BFE. If damage to your home is more than 50 percent of its value, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will require it be rebuilt to current code and elevated above the BFE. The National Flood Insurance Program toll-free number is 1-800-427-9662.
For more information on protecting your home, contact the Florida Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) or its bilingual home safety hotline, 1-877-221-SAFE.
Finding your safe room
A closet or small room in your home, such as a laundry room or bathroom, could become a safe haven during a hurricane or tornado. The strongest part of your home usually is away from windows or exterior doors. In a two-story home, a closet or a cubicle near the stairwell may be the safest location.
In a one-story home, a bathroom or walk-in closet near the center of the structure may be the best location.