Tropical storms are one of the natural calamities which can cause a lot of damage to a home or place of business. However, technology has evolved in a way that monitoring of storms are made possible allowing the government-designated agencies to give out alerts. With technology, the direction of the storm, wind velocity and character are known so these government-designated offices will know exactly where to announce a storm alert and advice how much a homeowner should prepare for it.
According to past tropical storm reports, damages are varied and range from mild to alarming, depending on how strong the tropical storm is. Often, glass windows get broken or garage doors get blown away. Or in unfortunate cases, roofs gets damaged and blown away. And aside from the actual damage the winds cause, the heavy rains that usually accompanies a storm causes an entirely different damage. Flooding can happen which can result in water damaged house structures or cause the onset of water-borne diseases to individuals exposed to dirty flood water.
Knowing About Preventive Measures
While there is no way of stopping the occurrence of a natural calamity, there are several ways that can be employed to minimize the damages that may result. If you recently transferred to a tropical storm prone area, then know that you have to prepare days or weeks before the storm season begins. To protect your glass windows, have shutters installed correctly. This way, no flying object will cause them to break. You can also install additional bracing on your garage doors so they don’t get detached from their tracks and get blown away, leaving your car exposed. And to ensure that your roof doesn’t get blown away, have a contractor install bracing which will secure roof trusses and rafters to the exterior walls of your home.
On the other hand, if you already have damage prevention tools attached to your home or place of business, then it is always best to check them before the storm season. This way, you make sure that they are still strong enough to protect your home or business from strong winds and flying objects.
How to Install Storm Shutters
Ready made storm shutters can get quite expensive so many homeowners turn to do-it-yourself types which are made of plywood. If you are very handy in carpentry, all you will need are the right tools, plywood, a set of extra hands and the right procedures on how to install them. However, before you install shutters, check if any permits are needed.
Then, prepare the necessary tools and materials you will need. Basically, you will need tools such as a drill and matching drill bits, hammer, measuring device, saw, wrench, a steady ladder and a hammer. And aside from carpentry tools, you will also need protective gears to avoid accidents. So before the job, ensure that you have a pair of carpentry gloves, goggles and proper working clothes. On the other hand, the materials you will need are: 5/8 plywood, bolts and anchors which should be matched to your wall material (plastic coated for wood and galvanized for masonry) and pre-cut wood when window or door length is wider than standard plywood size.
After preparing all the needed materials and tools, then the following steps should provide additional assistance in installing your storm shutters:
1. Measure your windows and doors. Do this on a one-time basis only so you can cut up your ply wood in one step. Measure the width and length of all windows, dormers, sky lights and doors that are made of glass. Use a trusty measuring device and jot down the sizes you get along with a description of the window so you don’t get them all mixed up.
2. Using the sizes, make marks on your 5/8 plywood so you can cut them up in the exact sizes. However, add an allowance of four inches on each side for bolts and anchors.
When your window or door exceeds the 4 x 8 feet standard plywood size, divide the shutter into two equal plywood parts. Just don’t forget to make an allowance for the bolts. And after cutting up the plywood, make sure to make marks so you install them on the right window or door.
3. Drill holes on the cut up plywood using the right drill bit. The holes should be at least 2 1/2 inches from the edge and at an interval of 12 inches or more. The bigger the board is, the higher the interval should be. However, it should not exceed more than 16 inches.
Aside from making holes for bolts, drill a cluster of four in the middle of each board to lessen the wind pressure that will possibly hit them. This way, you are ensuring that the boards don’t fly off under strong pressure.
4. Drill holes on the wall beside the window or door. Make sure that you drill on wood or masonry and not on any window or door grout. To be precise, use the holes you made on the plywood as template. However, ensure that the allowances you made on the plywood are evenly distributed on all edges.
5. Install the anchors using a wrench or hammer; whichever is more appropriate. Make sure they are tightly in place.
6. Install the shutters. Have someone hold the boards while you bolt them on the installed anchors. Make sure that the bolts are tightly screwed so they don’t fly off under strong wind pressure.
When you your window or door is bigger than the standard plywood size, the same steps will still more or less be the same only that you use two plywood parts for one shutter. The two parts will have to be braced with wood in the middle and on the edges. This can be a do-it-yourself project but it can usually take time especially if all your windows and doors are this size. Considering the time frame you have, it is sometimes best to have a professional contractor do the job.
Retrofitting Your Garage Doors
Aside from broken glass windows and doors, garage doors which are blown away from their tracks are common as well; especially double-wide garage doors. Because of their size, the materials that hold them on the edges are not enough to fight strong wind pressure. This is why, if you have this type of doors, it is important that you retrofit them. Actually, in tropical storm prone states, there are building codes that govern retrofitting garage doors.
Bracings can be made of wood or metal in 2 x 4 inch sizes. When installed, they should be evenly distributed on the door. Basically, four or five bracings will need to be installed both vertically and horizontally. Each will need to be fasted tightly with bolts on the garage door mullions.
Aside from do-it-yourself retrofitting, there are also kits which can just be instantly installed and which will allow you to operate or use your garage doors after they are installed. However, you will need to make sure that your door springs are working properly. If not, have a professional fix them right away. It can be dangerous when you do this yourself.
How to Prepare your Yard
Other than preparing windows and doors, there are also several protective measures you can apply on the exterior of your house and on your yard. Here’s a list of the most important things to do outside your home before a storm:
1. Place duct tape over electrical outlets located on the exterior of your walls. This way, they won’t get wet once heavy rains that accompany tropical storms start.
2. Secure movable objects in your yard. If you have a children’s play area, bring play sets inside or if they are installed on the ground. Make sure they can withstand strong wind pressure. If you have a swing, fasten the movable seats to the main structure.
3. Secure or bring porch furniture inside. This way, you protect your furniture from being damaged and avoid having them flown away by strong winds. They can cause damage not only to your home or property but to your neighbor’s property as well and to any motorist passing by.
4. Have the trees in your yard pruned by a professional. Make sure that dead or weak branches are cut. Branches can cause a lot of damage on walls, windows and even on electrical power lines.
5. If you are preparing a store or an office, make sure that any sign boards you have outside are securely fastened. If they are the movable types, temporarily remove them and bring them inside. If not, secure them to sturdy metal posts or building structure.
There are a lot more ways you can do to protect your home from a tropical storm. These are just some of them but whatever you do, make sure to keep your receipts. Make sure that you document everything especially on the finances part. This way, you can make insurance claims when you have tropical storm damage coverage.
Applying preventive measures is the best thing you can do to minimize structural damage to your home or place of business. It is a reality that we cannot stop any natural calamity from happening, but we can apply ways in order to keep damages at minimum.