Hurricanes, tropical storms and strong afternoon summer thunderstorms are all a part of life when you live in Southwest Florida. But, all that wind and water – not to mention hail and flying debris – can wreak havoc on the roof of your home. Are you 100% certain that your home is ready for the next big storm?
While you may not think of your roof as the most important part of your home when preparing it for hurricane season, making sure it’s safe and secure can help you weather any storm that comes your way. This article will go over some of the things you can do to help protect your home and family as hurricane season approaches.
1) Get a Roof Inspection Before Storm Season
While most Floridians say their number one priority is safety when it comes to hurricane season, only about 15% of homeowners in high-risk areas get a professional roof inspection every year before hurricane season arrives. If you’re among the 85% who forego an annual inspection, it’s important to keep in mind that it can often be difficult to spot roof damage when you look at it from the ground. Over time, the elements and other external factors can cause damage that the untrained eye often overlook. This leaves your roof susceptible to water damage or worse. By having a roofing professional examine your roof, you can detect and remedy any potential issues before they worsen and turn into dangerous (and more expensive) conditions during a major storm.
2) Ensure Your Home Has Hurricane Straps or Roof-to-Wall Connections
A hurricane exposes your home to sustained winds of 75+ mph and gusts that can easily exceed 120 mph. One of the best ways to help protect your home and family is by ensuring that your roof is properly and securely connected to wall structures with either hurricane straps or other roof-to-wall connections.
A hurricane strap is a connector – usually made from stainless or galvanized steel – that strengthens wood framed roofs against hurricane force winds. And while there is no guarantee that these fixtures will ensure your roof survives the full brunt of a Category 5 hurricane, the hurricane strap is an economical addition to your home’s arsenal that you cannot afford to ignore.
Although hurricane straps are a common feature in most Southwest Florida homes built after 1992, some older structures may be missing this feature. Additionally, your roof may have aging straps that need to be replaced. A roofing inspector can check the condition of your hurricane straps and other roof-to-wall connections to ensure that your roof structure is properly secured.
3) Make a Game Plan for Evacuation or Sheltering-in-Place
One of the most important things you can do during storm season is to have an evacuation or sheltering-in-place plan for your home and family well before you start hearing about an approaching storm.
If your plan is to evacuate if a strong hurricane or tropical storm approaches, we recommend doing at least the following:
- Have a roof inspection done early on to check for existing damage and structural integrity. Get any roof repairs done by a professional ahead of time to protect your investment.
- Ensure all windows and sliding glass doors are reinforced with plywood or storm shutters prior to evacuating.
- If you have a pool, DO NOT EMPTY IT. An empty pool may “float” or “pop” out of the ground due to ground water pressure caused by heavy rains.
- If you are in a flood area, fortify doors and other entryways with sandbags on the outside to minimize the chance of water entering your home.
- Clear your yard of anything that could blow around during the storm and cause damage your home. This includes items such as lawn furniture and grills, as well as items like lawn art, security cameras and exterior cosmetic lighting.
- Assemble all important paperwork related to your home (insurance policy, mortgage paperwork, inspection certificates, etc.) and family (IDs, pet records, medical records, etc.) in a folder that you can access quickly when it’s time to leave. If possible, it may be useful to scan these documents and upload a copy to a secure cloud service that you can access via computer in the future.
- Ensure you know your excavation route and have your car prepped with a first-aid kit, extra water, phone chargers, cash, shelf-stable foods, a week’s worth of clothing and at least one flashlight, plus any other necessary items like medications and phone chargers.
- Program all emergency numbers into your phones, as well as the numbers for your homeowner’s insurance company, mortgage company and any other individuals you may need to contact during or after the storm.
- Before you leave, unplug all appliances and turn off the electricity, water and gas (if you have it).
If your plan is to shelter-in-place during a hurricane or tropical storm, we recommend you do the following:
- Everything mentioned above, including a roof inspection and repairs, protecting windows and entryways, clearing your yard, assembling paperwork and knowing your evacuation routes.
- Gather enough supplies for you and your family for at least three days, including shelf-stable foods, water, batteries, medications, candles and/or flashlights, a storm radio and portable phone chargers.
- Be prepared to leave if emergency authorities order you to evacuate or if your home is damaged.
For a more detailed list of evacuation or shelter-in-place preparations, visit Ready.gov.
Hurricane preparation is serious business if you have a property here in Southwest Florida. One of the first – and easiest – steps you can take to protect your home and family is to get a roof inspection prior to hurricane season and ensure that your roof is in the best possible condition to weather the storm. If you already know that there are leaks or other issues with your roof that need repairing, then make sure to get them professionally inspected before hurricane season gets into full swing. Whether you’re looking for a free roof inspection or need roof repairs or replacements, contact Roof RX – Southwest Florida’s most trusted name in roof repairs and replacements. A highly-trained member of our staff will evaluate your roof’s condition and provide you with an estimate for any repairs that need to be made before we’re hit with a major storm. Roof RX can be reached at 239-789-9218 in Lee and Collier counties, and 941-979-5250 in Charlotte and Sarasota counties.