Claudette Reichel | 6/9/2005 8:36:10 PM
As the hurricane season peaks, don't wait until a hurricane is on its way to protect your home against damage, stresses LSU AgCenter housing specialist Dr. Claudette Reichel. "Once you get the alert, there is not enough time and often a shortage of supplies to protect your home as well as you could," the specialist warns.
Reichel says the biggest risk to most non-coastal homes is damage from flying debris. Hurricane winds, often in excess of 100 miles per hour, can turn unanchored items into missiles, causing damage or injury when they hit - and that may be only the beginning. Rain entering a home from broken windows or roof leaks is often the more devastating and expensive damage.
"Most homes destroyed during recent hurricanes had no window protection," Reichel points out, explaining, "When wind enters a home through broken windows, the pressure can build against the walls and lift roofs, followed by collapsing walls."
To protect your home and save yourself the ordeal and expense of restoration, the specialist identifies several steps to take.
- Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a storm. A list will help you remember anything that can be broken or picked up by strong winds.
- Remove any debris or loose items in your yard. Hurricane winds can pick up anything unsecured, creating damage to property when the debris hits.
- Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed. Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased or damaged limbs, then strategically remove branches so wind can blow through. Hurricane winds often break weak limbs and hurl them at great speed, causing major damage when they hit property. Debris collection services may not be operating just before a storm, so it is best to do this well in advance of approaching storms.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts. Hurricanes often bring long periods of heavy rain. Providing clear drainage will help prevent misdirected flooding.
- Install permanent hurricane shutters or special impact-resistant glass. Hurricane shutters and the new high-impact resistant laminated glass provide the best protection for your windows and doors. Roll-down shutters also are available that can hide in a cornice until needed.
- If you do not have permanent hurricane shutters or impact-resistant glass, install anchors for plywood (marine plywood is best) and pre-drill holes in pre-cut half-inch outdoor plywood boards so you can cover the windows of your home quickly. Mark which board fits which window. Note: Tape does not prevent windows from breaking, so taping windows is not recommended. Also, taping windows could take critical time from more effective preparedness measures. All tape does is help prevent glass from broken windows from scattering all over inside.
- Install protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors. Glass doors are as vulnerable as windows to breakage by wind-driven objects.
- Well ahead of time, buy any other items needed to board up windows and protect your home. When a hurricane threatens, supplies are quickly sold out at many stores. Stock may not be replenished until after the storm.
- Strengthen garage doors or replace with hurricane-resistant garage doors. Many houses are destroyed by hurricane winds that enter through damaged garage doors, lifting roofs and destroying the remainder of the house.
- Have an engineer check your home and advise about ways to make it more resistant to hurricane winds. There are a variety of ways to protect your home, including retrofitted anchors, ties or strapping at key connections. Professionals can advise you of engineering requirements, building permits or requirements of local planning and zoning departments to provide the most effective protection.
- Elevate coastal homes. Raising houses to a certain height will make them more resistant to hurricane-driven waters. There may be local codes affecting how and where homes can be elevated. Meet with your local emergency manager or planning and zoning official for a description of the process to have your home elevated. Community funds also may be available for such measures.
- If you live in a flood plain or are prone to flooding, follow flood preparedness precautions. Hurricanes can bring great amounts of rain and frequently cause floods. Some hurricanes have dropped more than 10 inches of rain in just a few hours, or 20+ inches in a few days as we just experienced with storm Allison.
Look for on-line disaster publications "Living with Hurricanes" and "There's a Hurricane Forming" in the Extension publications section of the LSU AgCenter's Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com.
Detailed information about protecting your homes from flooding and natural hazards also is available from the LSU AgCenter through its special focus Web site, www.louisianafloods.org.
Source: Claudette Reichel - (225) 578-6701, or firstname.lastname@example.org