Still time for DIY hurricane preparations
By Maria Mallory White, Sun Sentinel
9:25 a.m. EDT, May 28, 2013
The start of hurricane season is mere days away, but don’t despair. There’s still time for some last-minute D-I-Y to help secure your home before June 1.
With the start of Hurricane Preparedness Week Labor Day, consumer groups and government agencies — on both the local and federal level — are flush with advice, checklists and other resources to help the public with pre-storm prep.
Obviously, if you get ahead of the game, it’ll save you money in the long run,” said Paul Licata, director of business development at Dean Mitchell Restoration of Riviera Beach. “There are a lot of things that can be done to mitigate damages.”
Licata and his company produce a hurricane preparedness checklist, which is available at deanmitchellgroup.com.
The most effective do-it-yourself best strategies to protect your home also involve sealing “failure points,” places where water or wind can enter your home and wreak havoc. The best defense against the unique characteristics of the wind and rain during a hurricane involve closing gaps and entry points where wind or water can get in.
That makes windows and doors particularly vulnerable.
“A door or a window in comparison to a wall is going to be weaker because it has to be mobile,” said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. “So one thing that happens is the shear pressure on the wind pressing on that door or window.”
“Unlike a tornado that comes and goes very quickly, you could be subjected to those winds for days,” said Chapman-Henderson. “It’s not going to be over in a couple of hours. That’s one thing that’s different with a hurricane. It’s really a marathon, where a tornado is more like a sprint.”
While the weather is good, Licata advises homeowners to walk around the house and take a close look at all windows. Make sure they are properly caulked and that there’s no room for water intrusion, he said.
Check any place where there is rubber molding or sealants, Licata said.
“Go around the house and make sure [window moldings] aren’t cracked or rotting,” he said.
And don’t forget the skylights. “That’s another sneaky spot for the water to come in,” Licata warned. “That actually happened at my house. The water gets into those cracks, and there’s not set path to where it travels. Water is tricky like that.”
Chapman-Henderson advises taking a trip into the attic. That’s another location where an application of inexpensive caulk to the roof joints and seams can provide strengthen a home’s defense against high winds.
Back on the ground-level, check the garage door, Chapman-Henderson said. “Look at the rollers and the tracks and make sure they’re not loose.”
If a storm is approaching, defending your home against the threat of wind and rain can be as basic as putting away patio furniture, toys, trash cans, grills, etc.
“Make sure all of the movable objects are secured or brought indoors,” said Licata.
When you have a normal rain in South florida, it comes down usually straight,” Licata “In a storm situation, the rain sometimes is coming almost sideways so that water is at an angle where it can be intrusive in your house.
And don’t forget the foliage.
“There is so much damage that can be prevented if people trimmed their trees or called in an arborist to check for disease,” said Lynne McChristian, the Florida representative at the Insurance Information Institute. “You don’t want Mother Nature to do the trimming for you. She’s not a pro at that sort of thing.”
Copyright © 2013, South Florida Sun-Sentinel