tampabay.com

Tips to help homes weather storms

By Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council
Published May 29, 2005


There are some specific actions you should take to make your home safer. To make some of these improvements, you will have to get up in the attic or crawl space with a flashlight. You may feel more comfortable with an experienced and licensed inspector, architect, engineer or contractor inspecting your home. Whatever choice you make, take time to do this well before the storm threatens.

To withstand the forces of wind associated with severe weather, remember your A,B,C's: Anchor your roof; brace entry and garage doors; cover your windows; and find your safe room.

ANCHOR YOUR ROOF

If your roof was built before 1994 and is gabled, brace all gable end framing with horizontal and vertical beams. Also, make sure that there is wood sheathing (planks or plywood) behind the stucco of the triangular gable end walls.

Using a caulking gun, apply a quarter-inch bead of APA AFG-01 certified wood adhesive along an intersection of the roof deck and roof support element (rafter or truss chord) on both sides of the beam. This technique can increase the wind uplift resistance by up to three times, but should not be used if you are going to re-roof in the near future.

BRACE YOUR ENTRY AND GARAGE DOORS

Entry doors are easily damaged by high winds. Bolt all doors with foot and head bolts with a minimum 1-inch bolt throw length.

Garage doors should be able to withstand hurricane wind loads and flying debris. If yours does not, replace with a hurricane-resistant one. Approximately 80 percent of residential hurricane wind damage starts with wind entry through garage doors.

COVER YOUR WINDOWS

Protecting your windows is perhaps one of the most important factors in securing your home or office from destruction in a hurricane or severe storm.

Make sure all doors and windows are properly caulked and/or weather stripped.

Replace gravel/rock landscaping material with fire treated, shredded bark to reduce damage.

Cover all windows and glass doors with securely fastened, impact-resistant shutters or other approved window protection systems with proper mounting fixtures or replace them with impact resistant laminated window and door systems, if feasible. Hint: You don't have to use the same system on every window.

SAFE ROOM

Regardless of the type of window protection you choose, do not stay in a room that does not have shielded windows/glass doors. Find an interior room - a bathroom, hallway or closet that will help buffer you from the storm's winds. Make sure all family members know where the safe areas are in your home.

WHEN BUILDING OR REMODELING:

Replace your old garage door with a hurricane-resistant one.

When replacing windows or doors, consider impact-resistant glass or some type of shutter/wind-abatement system.

When replacing soffits, check for hurricane clips; install connections between roof truss and walls.

When repairing the roof, check the decking. Make sure it is secure and nailed properly.

When reroofing, install roof covering that is rated for hurricane-force winds and (Class 5) fire resistance.

For more tips, go online to www.flash.org Federal Alliance for Safe Homes or call toll-free, 1-877-221-SAFE.

Building a new home? Be safe and smart. Ask for a hurricane-resistant home. For more information, go online to the Institute for Business and Home Safety (www.ibhs.org) or FLASH at (www.blueprintforsafety.org)

FOR MOBILE HOME RESIDENTS

Anchor mobile homes with tie-downs. Inspect tie-downs annually.

Never stay inside mobile homes to ride out the storm. Always evacuate to a friend or relative's home, hotel or motel or nearby designated storm shelter.

GENERATORS

Fueled by gas, generators can run appliances and fans. Sizes range from 750 watts (which will run a fan and a light) up to 8,000 watts, which will practically run a house (except for the air conditioner). Refrigerators require 400 to 1,000 watts.

If you have lost power, don't connect a portable generator to building wiring (this could injure or kill neighbors or electrical crews). Plug appliances, etc., directly into the generator. Place generators outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Don't forget to check the oil every time you add gas.

Conserve fuel by alternating appliances. For example, refrigerators can be kept cool by supplying power eight hours a day.