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Protecting Your Home Against A Hurricane

By Tabitha Naylor

Hurricanes present a dangerous challenge to Florida homeowners each season. There are some things you can (and should) do to strengthen your home against the high winds and reduce the possibility of damage. During a hurricane, the force of the wind pushes against the outside of your home. When the energy of the wind is not passed along the roof to the exterior walls down to the foundation properly your home can be damaged or destroyed.

Roof

The first thing you should do is check what type of roof you have. Gabled, or A shape roofs generally suffer more damage than other types of roofs. Installing additional truss braces makes your roof's truss system much stronger. In gabled roofs, truss bracing generally consists of 2 x 4's that run the length of the roof. The end of the 2 x 4's are overlapped.. Install braces 18 inches from the ridge, in the center span, and at the base. Use two or three, 3-inch, 14 gauge wood screws or 16d (16 penny) galvanized common nails at each truss. After that is complete add end bracing by placing 2x4's in an "x" pattern from the top center of the gable to the bottom center brace of the fourth truss, and from the bottom center of the gable to the top center brace of the fourth truss. Attach these braces in the same way.

You can also use hurricane straps to secure any type of roof. Straps are used to help hold your roof to the walls. It is best to have a professional install hurricane straps. Some areas require hurricane straps.

Garage

Double-wide garage doors are a problem during hurricanes because they are so large that they wobble. If garage doors fail, high winds can enter your home through the garage and blow out windows, doors, walls and even the roof. Strengthen your garage door with a secure door vertical bracing system. It anchors into the wall above the door, into the floor, and into each hinge, which prevents the door from blowing in or suctioning out. If you cannot find that, you can look for a retrofit kit, which involves installing horizontal bracing onto each panel. You might also want to consider heavier hinges and stronger center supports and end supports for the doors.

Storm Shutters

Shutter all exposed windows and any other glass surfaces. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your home. Cover all windows, French doors, sliding glass doors and skylights. You can buy manufactured storm shutters or make your own plywood shutters. Use window clips to secure them or if you cannot find window clips use lag bolts and plastic coated permanent anchors to secure the shutters in place.

Doors

Consider replacing your exterior door with storm doors that have received the FEMA seal of approval. Such doors have been tested to withstand EF 5 tornado conditions. If you cannot afford that, then strengthen all windows and doors by adding an extra hinge in the center, and adding dead bolts.

Cable Ties

You can take an extra step and add cable ties to tie the house down by connecting the J-bolt of the foundation to the top plate. The cable ties use a cam-locking device at the base which tightens the cables uniformly and exerts a constant downward pressure on the house.

When you take the proper precautions, and strengthen vulnerable areas of your home, you protect your investment and keep your family as safe as possible.

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