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Bracing Your Home for the Storm

Updated June 1, 2009

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Joe Bartosik

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Your home is one of your biggest investments. Naturally, you`ll want to do everything possible to protect that investment and sense of security. The best time to do this is now: long before a major, potentially catastrophic storm lurks over the horizon.

After Hurricane Andrew devastated southern Dade County, Fla., in late August, 1992, much was learned about the type of damage a house can sustain during a hurricane. This information, combined with research studies done at various technology institutes, led to a major upgrade in home building code requirements, not just in Florida, but across the entire country.

Even so, portions of the home will always be vulnerable to the wind`s power. Engineers and emergency management officials say these vulnerable areas are: the roof, the windows, the doors, and the garage doors. Making simple upgrades and/or modifications in these areas will go a long way in reducing wind damage potential to the home.

The Roof:

Because it`s the part of the home that`s most vulnerable to the wind, it`s vital that the roof over your head be well constructed and properly attached to the rest of the house. The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) suggests that specially designed metal connectors be installed by a building professional to further strengthen the roof`s attachment to the wall plates and studs of the house.

To reduce the "uplifting" effect caused by strong, gusty winds, use specially designed hurricane connectors or straps made of metal to secure the roof rafters or trusses to your home`s exterior walls. There are even such connectors designed for masonry walls.

If the roof is gable-ended, apply extra braces perpendicularly across the roof trusses and rafters.

Applying quick-setting asphalt cement will bond roof shingles together so they do not "flap" and become stripped off the roof.

Windows and Doors

Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for window sliding glass doors and skylights. Use of impact-resistant shutters, such as a structural panel either made from plywood or from a manufacturer will add extra protection from flying debris, which causes most "wind" damage. Make extra certain that the shutters you use are properly fastened and secured to the home`s exterior.

Garage Doors

Garage doors for a single vehicle are more wind resistant than the longer, double wide doors; however, both could use extra bracing to stand up against the wind`s fury. Always check local building codes for safety concerns before making any modifications.

If applying extra bracing, attach the wood or light metal strip in the middle of each panel on the garage door. This may require the use of heavier hinges and stronger supports for your door.

Consult a building professional to see if a ready-made retrofit kit is available.

For more detailed information on properly preparing your home for a major storm, click on the links to the National Hurricane Center`s Hurricane Preparedness website as well as F.E.M.A`s Hurricane Hazards website located above under "Related Contact".

Photo Credit: WeatherBug User Darlene Bissonnette of Katy, Texas. Residents of this Houston suburb preparing for Hurricane Rita in September, 2005.

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