Baton down the hatches! The 2020 hurricane season officially starts today, June 1, and has leading experts predicting above-normal probability for major hurricanes and storms making landfall in the U.S. Meteorologists from Colorado State University, one of the nation’s top hurricane forecasters, predicts 16 tropical storms will form, of which eight will become hurricanes. In an average season, 12 tropical storms, six of which are hurricanes, are typical.
The dire predictions compound potential issues for homeowners already stressed and sheltering in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Experts are urging homeowners to proactively line-up defenses and be ready for heightened storm activity, before the home improvement center and retailer rush that occurs when hurricane and tropical storm forecasts threaten regionally.
It’s also wise to prioritize home improvement projects now that will strengthen and better protect your home over the long run. Choosing stronger materials, making sure projects meet or exceed codes and standards, and investing in improvements designed to maximize performance and reliability can improve the chances of riding out storms unscathed. Also, once major storm activity hits, the demand for contractor services for repairs and replacements spikes, so being proactive early and taking preventative action now may prevent major headaches and long delay times down the line.
Case in point is the roofing industry. Spring is already a popular time for re-roofing projects and experts say for hurricane-prone areas, working closely together with your contractor to select the most resilient options possible to best fortify your roof is a smart move. That includes choosing materials like metal roofing that can better withstand hail, driving rain and extreme winds including F-2 tornado force winds of up to 140 mph. Since roofs take the brunt of monster storms, an investment in a higher quality roof can help save homes from sustaining major damage and will hold up better over time.
It’s not uncommon to see images of neighborhoods that show mass destruction after a hurricane, and yet the homes that have been properly fortified are still standing. We hear stories from homeowners all the time who credit their metal roof for literally saving their home during a monster storm. It all starts with making the right decisions and choosing more resilient materials and installation processes right from the get-go.
Other measures to take well in advance of the hurricane season:
- Be ready to protect openings: Permanent shutters are the best protection. If window replacement is in order this spring, consider impact resistant versions. A lower-cost approach is to put up plywood panels. Use 1/2 inch marine plywood cut to fit each window. Remember to mark which board fits which window. Pre-drill holes every 18 inches for screws. Especially with social distancing measures in place, get materials and work to complete this step long before the storm. Brace doors and jambs, including garage doors, or replace with those that meet current wind and impact resistant standards and codes.
- Survey your landscape: In hurricanes, any object can become a dangerous projectile. Trim branches away from the home and take down/dispose of loose limbs, remove weakened and dying trees, clear patios and yards of barbecues, heavy planter pots, furniture and other moveable objects.
- Re-evaluate improvement projects: Work with your contractor to determine the best and most protective materials and installation measures that you can afford to help improve your home’s resiliency. Do your research and make sure codes, standards and quality materials meant to stand up to extreme conditions are being followed and used.
- Get an independent evaluation: Getting a check-up from a certified building inspector or structural engineer can be a good investment. For the roof, check hurricane anchors and straps, make sure the appropriate number of attachments and fasteners have been used, that roof trusses have adequate bracing and panels are properly attached, and soffits, flashing and existing material are in good shape. There are many ways to work safely with home improvement experts while sheltering in place to ensure projects move forward without delay.
- Check your insurance coverage: Now is an ideal time to do an insurance check-up to make sure your home and car coverage are adequate.
- Stock up: Since shortages of various items are increasingly common these days, stock up early on items such as batteries, flashlights, a battery-operated radio, fully charged back up cell phone chargers, first aid kits, nonperishable food (don’t forget pet food) and medicine. Consider designating a “safe room” in your home, stocking it with snacks, water, emergency kit supplies and bedding.
- Have a plan: Make sure family members know how to turn off gas, electricity and water. Disconnect propane at the tank. Have a plan for where to meet and how to communicate if family members get separated and cell coverage is unavailable. Consider how to protect and care for pets as part of the planning process. Know your emergency shelters and how to contact disaster information resources in your area. Create a written list of emergency contact information in case cell phones are unavailable or not working and keep with preparedness kit supplies.