Switching the calendar to June doesn’t send us scurrying for cover around here. However, the onset of hurricane season is certainly something we, Floridians, are aware of, isn’t it?
Okay, so maybe we breathe a tiny, inward sigh of relief come November 30th, but generally as a whole we don’t spend six months of the year fretting about it. Living in paradise provides a major distraction!
However, when the weatherman starts talking hurricane, we hone in on it!
One of the first things we want to know is the category.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale helps us get a handle on what’s coming at us. It gauges the impact of the storm should it reach the coast.
There are five categories for hurricanes.
Sustained winds up to 95 mph can cause some damage. Power outages are likely due to damage to utility lines and poles. Trees will lose some large branches and shallowly rooted trees are in danger of toppling over. Homes can sustain damage to roofs, gutters, and siding.
Winds speeds increase up to 110 mph and are considered extremely dangerous. If your home is well-constructed, major damage may occur to your roof and siding. Shallow rooted trees are likely to snap or be uprooted causing road blocks and damage to buildings. Extensive power outages can take several days or weeks to repair.
Winds reaching speeds up to 129 mph cause devastating damage to homes. Even well-built homes can incur major damage which includes losing the roof or gable ends. Trees snap or uproot entirely and expect extensive road blockage. Also expect electricity and water supplies to be non-existent for several days.
The winds pack far more than a punch when they reach speeds up to 156 mph! Catastrophic damage is headed our way fast. Your home is likely to sustain major roof damage to the entire structure. This includes the exterior walls. Most trees will be unable to sustain the wind and snap resulting in extensive damage to structures. Road blockage due to fallen trees and utility poles will isolate entire neighborhoods. In fact, most of the area will become uninhabitable for weeks or even months.
Winds in excess of 157 mph will destroy a large percentage of frame homes. Add to that the chaos caused by fallen trees and utility poles. The majority of the area will be uninhabitable for months.
That was sobering.
Take heart, friend. There are things you can do now that will prepare your home for hurricane season.
It’s amazing the difference reinforcing your home against the onslaught of a hurricane makes.
We’ve got five categories of our own that will leave you feeling prepared should this hurricane season or the seasons to come be downright nail-biters.
Starting at the top
There are ways to fortify the strength of your roof and increasing the chances that it is going to stay put.
If you have a gable roof, bracing your end walls is a good idea because they are the most vulnerable to uplift. Screwing a pair of 2×4’s in an “X” pattern from the gable to the bottom center brace of the fourth truss will do the job.
Strengthen roofs framed with rafters by using collar ties. This technique will greatly improve your roofs ability to take on those winds. By applying a brace to every pair of rafters, you are essentially bridging the inside of your roof from one end to the other.
Surprisingly, construction adhesive is also an inexpensive reinforcement method. Applying construction adhesive along each rafter or truss attaches it to the plywood decking above. This inexpensive measure almost triples a roof’s protection against high winds.
Hurricane straps or clips are another beneficial idea. They attach your studs to your trusses or rafters. Hopefully, they were installed when your home was built, but if not an experienced contractor can get the job done for you.
The way in
Reinforcing our entry points is key to the level of safety our home provides during a hurricane. Doors and windows that do not offer extra reinforcement are no match for wind speeds that could literally send us flying.
Impact windows and doors are tested to withstand flying debris, cyclonic winds, and the resistance to storm-driven rain. They are rated according to performance so you will know exactly what you are getting.
Furthermore, don’t forget your garage door! It’s estimated that over 80% of homes destroyed during a hurricane lost their garage door at the onset. The huge opening allows the force of the storm to gain access to your home in a big way.
You can purchase a garage door system that meets hurricane resistance standards or beef up the one you have now.
We don’t usually consider landscaping as part of due diligence in regard to hurricane preparation. However, well-pruned trees weather a bad storm far better than those left unattended.
In addition, had you considered your fruit trees as projectiles? Fruit-laden trees provide ammunition for the raging winds!
Moreover, if you have young trees, bracing them for the storm increases their chances of survival.
Shelters within a shelter
Safe rooms are another option for you to consider when you want to do all you can to protect your family in the event of a hurricane. It can be as simple as reinforcing the interior walls of your safe space with concrete cloth.
Simply add water to the cloth and it inflates, then, hardens like a cast. A cement cast that is. After wetting, you have about 2 hours to work with it. It dries completely in about 24 hours and is both water and fireproof.
A powerful plan
Hurricanes often equal power outages that can last for days, even months. If you own a back-up generator, don’t use it inside. The carbon monoxide fumes it creates can prove deadly. Place generators outside and away from windows.
Another powerful plan? In short, it’s taking steps now to ensure your home is as strong as it can be during this hurricane season and beyond.
We live in Florida.
It’s not a matter of if a hurricane comes, it’s a matter of when.