ORLANDO, Fla. -- As September's designation as "National Preparedness Month" comes to close, recovery officials remind Floridians that disaster readiness is a year-round job. Taking precautions long before storm clouds start to form is the best answer for minimizing damage from foul or extreme weather such as windstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes.
Many recommended risk-reduction measures require a minimal amount of time and money to accomplish and can dramatically lessen the costs in dollars and lives according to mitigation ?experts at the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management ?Agency (FEMA).
The first step is to walk around your property. By asking yourself, "what could go wrong here?" you are well on your way to developing a list that should reduce or minimize severe weather damage.
Here are a few things you can do:
Keep Outdoor Gear from Becoming Windborne Missiles
High velocity winds can turn patio furniture, grills and tree branches into destructive missiles. Check the area immediately surrounding your house for unsecured or potentially dangerous conditions. Tree limbs, outbuildings, trash cans, yard debris, or other materials that can be moved by the wind, are potential projectiles aimed at your home or parked vehicle.
All storage sheds and other outbuildings should be securely anchored, either to a permanent foundation or with straps and ground anchors. The straps and ground anchors used for manufactured homes can be used for the anchoring systems for outbuildings, such as garden sheds, which are not placed on a permanent foundation. Outdoor furniture and barbecue grills can be secured by bolting them to decks or patios or by attaching them to ground anchors with cables or chains.
Even trash cans can be secured with cables or chains attached to ground anchors or to wood posts firmly embedded in the ground.
Reinforce Vulnerable Areas
High winds can damage garage doors or even blow them in. If wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage to the home. A garage door can be reinforced by adding braces across the back of the door and by strengthening the glider wheel tracks.? If the existing door is old or damaged, it should be replaced with a stronger door and tracks. These modifications should be done only by a trained garage-door systems technician. If your home is under construction, look into purchasing a garage door built to withstand high winds.
Anticipate Damaged Tree Threats
Tall leafy oaks and maples beautify yards and cool homes with their shade, but they also can provide the ammunition for flying debris to break windows, crush walls and puncture roofs. Proper maintenance and siting of trees will minimize tree loss and home damage.
The surest way to prevent storm damage on a home from falling trees is to locate trees far enough away from your house that they can't fall on it. The distance between your house and any nearby tree should be greater than the height the tree will reach when it is fully grown.
Proper care of trees can also prevent storm damage. Three-fourths of the damage that trees incur during storms is predictable and preventable. Trees with wounds, decay, structural defects, stem girdling roots, severed roots and soil compaction are prime targets for experiencing storm damage.????????????????????????????????????????????
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.