As the effects of global warming take hold, severe storms become an increasingly common phenomenon. The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season was particularly fierce and destructive, tying with 2010 and 2011 (noticing a trend here?) as the third most active storm season in recorded history. Hurricanes have been responsible for catastrophic damage to property and tragic loss of life. While efforts to reduce the severity of these storms are part of a long-game battle against climate change, there are precautions you can take in the short term that will help you to secure your property and keep your family safe. Here are FEMA’s recommendations for securing your home.
The lie of the land
Survey your property so that you can see how flood waters and high winds will affect your home. Ensure that you have adequate drainage that channels water away from your home. If this is not the case, consult a professional on the landscaping you need to do to create slopes that move water away from your house as well as guttering and other drainage systems you can use to keep your home dry.
Keep gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and debris. Consider extending your downspouts to move water further from your home where it can drain safely. Seal and secure your soffits and check that wood supports and vinyl/aluminum channels are secure.
Trim trees and shrubs around your home of deadwood.
The only effect taping up your windows will have is that you will have a whole lot of window cleaning to do should your panes survive the storm. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, consider permanent storm shutters for your windows as these offer the best protection. If you need to board up your windows in the interim, opt for 5/8 or ½-inch marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.
Ensure that all gaps around doors and windows are sealed using a foam sealant or caulking. Check gaps around pipes, filters and air conditioners too.
Keep a lid on it
Get a roof inspector to check your roof prior to storm season. Ensure that everything is secure and that there are no leaks. Add additional clips or straps to reinforce your roof’s connection to the framing.
Ensure that all your outdoor furniture, garbage bins, barbecues etc. are secured inside your home or garage. Check that your garage door is securely closed. Wind can do considerable structural damage if your garage door should give way, especially if your garage abuts the house.
Having adequate property insurance is the best hurricane protection you can get for your home. When you are considering a new build or a renovation in a hurricane zone, go with the ultimate in severe storm protection by building with ICF blocks.
If you live in a flood surge zone or near levees, rivers or lakes, ensure that you have an evacuation plan and that all the members of your family are familiar with the location of your nearest evacuation center. Pack an emergency bag and secure all your important documents before the storm arrives. You can track severe weather through the National Hurricane Center here.