IBHS Offers Five Recommendations for Hurricane Home Protection

Media Contact:     Stacy Williams, APR, IBHS, Phone: (813) 675-1045 (Office); Email: swilliams@ibhs.org  

TAMPA (May 15, 2014) – With the start of hurricane season just a little over two weeks away, now is the time for residents in hurricane-prone areas to survey their property and ensure it is ready for the high winds and wind-driven rains of a tropical system. While it is important to prepare yourself and your family for hurricane season, remember to include property protection in your plans. A stronger home will require less repairs after a disaster, making it one less thing to worry about and recover from after a storm.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) recommends property owners focus on five areas on their property.  Additional information is available on IBHS’ hurricane resources page.

Recommended Property Protection Actions

1)      Prepare Your Surrounding to Reduce Damage

Limit possible sources of wind-borne debris by surveying your building’s surroundings before a storm.

  • Replace gravel/rock landscaping materials with a softer material, such as shredded bark or mulch.
  • Trim trees and shrubbery away from structures and remove any weakened sections of trees that might easily break off and fall onto structures.
  • Remove yard objects, including lawn furniture, planters, bird feeders, and decorative objects, before a storm to prevent them from becoming flying missiles.

2)      Protect Your Building’s Openings

Protect all openings from high wind or flying debris damage. Failure of a large window or door can result in pressurization inside the building, and potential damage. Attention should be given to all windows, entry doors, sliding glass doors, and garage doors.

  • Choose a permanent window and door protection, such as shutters or roll-downs, or install permanent fasteners before storm warnings, and pre-cut shutter panels so they can be put in place quickly. IBHS has a shutter selection and installation guide with more information.
  • If your garage door doesn’t have a pressure rating sticker, have it evaluated and if necessary, have a garage door bracing system installed to prevent wind from blowing in the door.
  • Whatever opening protection product you choose, make sure the product has the proper product approvals for wind pressure and large-missile impact from flying debris and objects.
  • Seal openings, cracks and holes on the outside of your building to prevent water from getting inside your home from wind-driven rain. Fill holes where wires, cables and pipes enter and exit the house and seal around electrical boxes and circuit breaker panels. Seal cracks around wall outlets, dryer vents, bathroom and kitchen vents, and wall lights.

3)    Strengthen Your Roof

The roof is a building’s first line of defense against Mother Nature, making it one of the most vulnerable points on a home or commercial building. Roof cover damage occurs in the vast majority of wind-related claims, and a compromised roof can allow high winds and wind-driven rain to enter your building, and cause major damage. Consider these roof protection projects, many which will require a professional roofing contractor.

  • Make sure your roof deck (sheathing) is strongly fastened to the roof frame. If you are re-roofing, make sure the roof cover is removed down to the deck and the contractor re-nails the sheathing with ring-shank nails, if it isn’t adequately fastened. If you are not ready to re-roof, consider using an adhesive system that can anchor down the sheathing to the framing.
  • Seal the roof deck to minimize water getting into your attic if the roof cover is blown off. If you are re-roofing, have roofing tape applied over the joints between the sheathing or a self-adhering covering over the roof deck.
  • Re-attach loose shingles with roofing cement to prevent them from blowing off and exposing your roof decking to wind-driven water.
  • If you have vinyl or aluminum soffit covers, strengthen their attachment to the walls and fascia. If the soffit is more than 12” wide, make sure the middle is supported. When soffit materials are blown off, wind-driven water can enter the attic, cause ceilings to collapse and damage the home’s interior.

Additional roof strengthening information is on IBHS’ Roofs webpage. 

4)      Ensure Your Building Is Tied Together

Create a continuous load path in your building, which means tying the roof to the walls and the walls to the foundation.  This is important because if the connections between the roof and walls are weak, high wind forces may cause the roof and walls to give way. Once the roof blows off, the entire structure can collapse within seconds.

More information is available on creating a continuous load path in your building.

5)      Properly Elevate Your Building

Learn what your property’s base flood elevation (BFE) is from your local building department and check your property survey to find the elevation of the lowest floor where you live or store things that would be damaged by a flood.

  • If this floor is not built above the BFE, consider elevating your building. If that is not possible, relocate utilities and valuable belongings at least one foot -to-three foot above your property’s BFE to reduce damage from flooding.
  • If you live near the coast, take into consideration the possible effects of storm surge. Any enclosed areas below the BFE (and preferably three feet above the BFE) should have break-away walls, and all utilities and equipment should be located well above the BFE. If storm surge hits your building, any flat surfaces, such as walls, facing the surge will probably be knocked down or knocked out, and the whole house could be lost.

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About The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)

IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific research and communications organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks on residential and commercial property by conducting building science research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparedness practices.