For older homes, check your tie-downs

Published April 17, 2005

Since 1995 building standards were imposed, factory-built homes can withstand very strong winds. But if the foundation and the tie-down and anchoring system are not intact or up to today's safety standards, you could be in for trouble.

If a heavy storm with strong winds causes your home to shift as little as 1 or 2 inches, major damage can occur.

If your home was built before 1999 and/or if you have not had your tie-downs inspected within the past four or five years, call the Division of Motor Vehicles at (850) 413-7600 to request a list of licensed tie-down inspectors for your area.

Anchor-Tight Mobile Home Service of Largo has collaborated with the Federation of Manufactured Home Owners to make an excellent video on proper tie-downs and how older homes can be brought up to today's standards. I strongly recommend that every homeowner association contact the FMO ((727) 530-7539) for a free copy of the video. Anchor-Tight (727) 559-0777) will perform inspections throughout the Tampa Bay area and Central Florida.

Now let's cover some of the other things you must do to be prepared for the summer storm season.

--Review your insurance coverage. Make sure you are properly covered for hurricanes/storms and you have the information needed to make a claim. Have a copy of your policy and the name, address and phone number of your agent.

--Talk with your park management and homeowner association to check on their plans for residents in case of a severe storm.

--Residents of manufactured homes are typically the first ordered to evacuate when a hurricane looms. Plan now where you will go. Can you stay with friends? Some faith communities and community organizations offer a "host home" program, matching up members in evacuation zones with those who live on higher ground. A public shelter should be your last resort.

-- If you evacuate, leave when public safety officials first start urging you to do so. The longer you wait, the bigger the traffic jam you can expect on your evacuation route. Allow extra time if you or someone in your family is disabled or requires complicated medical equipment.

-- Send comments or questions to Len Bonifield at elb@gate.net or fax to 863 853-8023, or phone (863) 858-1557. Please include your e-mail and mailing address. Because of the volume of mail and phone calls, he can't respond personally to every query. Bonifield is a manufactured-home resident and a past HOA president and former officer of the FMO District 1 board of directors.