AUSTIN, Texas -- In preparing for the upcoming hurricane season, federal officials urge coastal Texans to prepare their dwellings, too.
"In 2005 Hurricane Rita caused large-scale destruction along the Texas coast and this year's hurricane season is projected by scientists to be another active year," said Sandy Coachman, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) Transitional Recovery Office in Texas . "We urge individuals along the coast to take advantage of the weeks before hurricane season starts and make their homes safer now." Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.
After the devastating hurricanes and tropical storms of 1992, a team of experts examined homes that failed and those that survived, according to Coachman. The team focused on four areas that should be checked for vulnerability to strong winds: roof, windows, doors and garage doors .
The FEMA publication Against the Wind looks at those four areas and suggests ways to strengthen homes from wind damage before the next hurricane strikes.
The roof of your house is most vulnerable to damage from high winds. The connection between roof and walls must be strong enough to resist the "uplift" effect of strong winds. Roof trusses or rafters should be tied properly to exterior walls with metal hurricane connectors or straps.
Have a building professional use specially designed metal connectors to attach the roof trusses to the wall studs.
Gable-end roofs are more susceptible to damage from high winds than hip or flat roofs. Bracing for trusses and rafters can add protection to your home. When choosing the appropriate connectors, check with lumber-supply outlets, home improvement stores or a contractor.
Installing storm shutters over all exposed windows and other glass surfaces is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your home. Cover all windows, French doors, sliding glass doors and skylights.
Plywood shutters that you make yourself, if installed properly, can offer a high level of protection from flying debris during a hurricane. Plywood shutters can be installed on all types of homes. Consult a home improvement store or your telephone directory for custom permanent shutters. Renters should check with their landlords first.
If you have double-entry doors, one is active and one is inactive. Check to see how the fixed half is secured top and bottom. The bolts or pins that secure most doors are not strong enough to withstand hurricane winds. Check with your local building supplies retailer to find out what kind of bolt system will work for your door. Doors with windows also will need storm shutters for protection from flying debris.
Garage doors can pose a problem because they are so large they wobble as high winds blow and can pull out of their tracks or collapse from wind pressure. Some garage doors can be reinforced with retrofit kits. Check with your local building supplies dealer or home improvement store.
Other tips in Against the Wind include:
During a hurricane, ordinary objects inside your home can become a hazard. Anything that can move, fall or break may cause damage. Inspect your home at least once a year and address potential hazards, by securing bookshelves to the wall and anchoring water tanks.
Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable to hurricane-force winds and require special precautions. Against the Wind offers the following tips to mobile home occupants.
Anchor the mobile home with over-the-top, or frame, ties. When a storm threatens, do what you can to secure your mobile home, and then evacuate. If you have time before y...