Hurricane preparation in a post-Dorian Florida
Now that the end of summer is upon us, Florida residents start paying close attention to the weather forecast. That’s because hurricane season can often wreak havoc in the Sunshine State. Hurricane Matthew resulted in nearly 83,000 Floridian home insurance claims and $218 million worth of property damage, while Hurricane Andrew caused 26 fatalities, 88% of which were due to flooding and storm surge. As Hurricane Dorian makes its way out of the Bahamas through Florida, and towards the Carolinas and Georgia, the extent of the damage residents faced is currently unknown. And while homeowners spend anywhere from 1% to 4% of their property values each year on maintenance and repairs, failing to safeguard your house in the event of a hurricane can result in necessary fixes that may blow your budget entirely. Whether you’re getting ready to batten down the hatches or you’re looking ahead to future threats, here are a few ways you can protect your home from harm.
Install Storm Shutters
Glass surfaces like windows and doors are understandably among the first things to become damaged in strong winds. You’ll want to seal and cover every window, sliding glass door, skylight, and French door around your home. While there are many kinds of manufactured storm shutters available, you’ll want to follow all installation instructions carefully and check with local ordinances to inquire whether you’ll need to obtain a building permit first. You can also create your own storm shutters out of metal storm panels or certain kinds of plywood, which might appeal to homeowners who want to save money. According to Angie’s List, storm shutters cost approximately $50 to $60 per square foot of window, which can definitely add up. However, if you’re in a time crunch, the DIY option might be too involved to execute properly. Once installed, your storm shutters can be closed quickly to keep flying objects from breaking the glass, meaning that these areas will be protected in the event of sudden landfall or an unexpected wind storm.
Perform Roof Maintenance
If your roof is older or made of less expensive materials, it’s going to be more vulnerable to hurricane damage. Metal roofs are generally the most hurricane proof option, but you’ll still need to do your due diligence when preparing for a storm. Ideally, you’ll want to perform roof maintenance well before hurricane season happens. Be sure to secure any loose shingles, apply sealing around your chimney and vent pipes, and trim back any trees with dead limbs or that extend too close to your roof. In addition, you’ll need to pay close attention to your gutters. Rain gutters were invented in the early 20th century and are still used today, but they need to be cleaned out and secured in order to withstand strong winds. First, attend to any clogs in your downspouts and in the gutters themselves, as failing to do so can lead to flooding and structural damage when water cannot be diverted properly. Some homeowners work with gutter experts to install extensions that will do more to keep water away from their house’s foundation, as well.
Secure Loose Items
If you love spending time outdoors, you probably have a number of backyard items and structures that need to be secured in the event of strong winds. Garden sheds, pool screens, grills, patio furniture, umbrellas, toys, and lawn decorations need to be put away inside or bolted down to the deck or patio area with cables and chains. If these items are swept up in the winds, they can very easily transform into flying projectiles that can harm your property or your family.
Strengthen Garage Doors
Homeowners who have a garage should take steps to reinforce its doors in the event of strong winds. A hurricane can very easily blow off a garage door and damage everything housed inside this structure — and if you ever plan to sell, a garage door can make a huge financial difference — so this is an area worth investing in. Since CNN Money estimates that 80% of residential hurricane damage actually begins as a result of wind entry through garage doors, now may be a good time for an upgrade. Your garage door should be windowless and able to stand up to at least 50 pounds of pressure per square foot. Consult with an expert to assess whether your garage door is rated to withstand hurricane winds. Steel garage doors are typically best and many types come with steel posts that can add further reinforcement.
Hurricanes mostly pose dangers to humans, but their effects on the environment are slightly more complex. The rain they bring can be a boon to plant life, and hurricanes help remove heat from the ocean and redistribute it toward the poles. And while hurricane waves can cause damage to coral reefs, which account for just 1% of the marine environment but host 25% of marine fish, they can also prevent coral bleaching, an increasingly dire problem for the world’s oceans.
Although you can’t always predict the kind of damage a hurricane might cause — or where it might go — it’s better to be safe than sorry. By keeping these prep tips in mind, you may be able to prevent major damage to your home in the event you find yourself in the eye of the storm.