It’s once again hurricane season in Central Florida! If this is your first in the Sunshine State, Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, with August and September typically the most active months. Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center — a division of the National Weather Service — predict a 65% chance of an above-normal hurricane season this year. Although our area has been spared a direct hit the past few years, it doesn’t pay to take chances when it comes to preparing your property to prevent or minimize hurricane damage.
Why You Need to be Prepared
Unlike tornados, hurricanes travel according to a trajectory that can be predicted with a good degree of accuracy – and even fast-moving storms usually give those in their path about 24 to 48 hours to either batten down the hatches or evacuate. While this may seem like a good amount of time, you don’t want to be scrambling to move outdoor furniture, planters, etc., indoors or to a more sheltered area while making sure you have enough batteries, flashlights and emergency provisions (a.k.a. “hurricane food”) to see you through a possible prolonged power outage. This also is not the time you want to be worried about that brittle old tree branch hanging over your roof!
While hurricanes tend to be the focus this time of year, it’s also the season for tropical storms – which have sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph and may or may not become a hurricane.
Hurricanes and tropical storms aside, our almost-daily summer afternoon thunderstorms are sometimes severe enough to wreak havoc on trees, landscaping and home exteriors – as well as cause flooding in low-lying areas or yards with poor drainage.
We at The Paint Manager want you to be ready if a hurricane hits Central Florida or nature unleashes its fury with other severe storms. In addition to following the steps recommended here, we encourage you to read our previous blog posts on this topic:
- Preparing Your Home’s Exterior for a Hurricane
- Preparing Your Home for Hurricane Season
- Hurricane Season is Here! Are You Ready?
Check Your Roof, Exterior Walls and Screened Enclosure
Roofs are particularly vulnerable to hurricane damage. Mark Kaufman Roofing recommends having the roof inspected and any needed repairs taken care of promptly. “This might include getting damaged or missing shingles or tiles replaced, having missing metal panel anchors replaced, getting any flashing defects dealt with, and making sure that loose soffits, ventilation turbines and gable end/eave vents are properly secured. Have hurricane straps or truss tie-downs added in the attic to bolster the roof/wall connections and bracing installed if your roof has gable ends taller than 48 inches.”
Also be sure to clean out the gutters and repair any deficiencies – such as sagging or poorly-attached sections, or loose or poorly-placed downspouts. If your gutters are clogged, the backed-up water will sit on your roof, and the probability of water entering your house will increase.
Next, assess the condition of your home’s exterior walls. It is crucial to caulk any cracks you see. Left unrepaired, they can cause damage when breached by driving hurricane-force winds and rain. The most weather-resistant types of caulk are silicone, urethane and Elastomeric latex caulk. Other options include acrylic and latex caulk, with the latter being especially easy to apply.
Inspect each window and door, and reseal if needed. Florida’s high summer temperatures take a toll on caulk around these components, making it necessary to reseal them more frequently than in moderate climates. Ygrene recommends checking the caulk around the frame and glazing around the panes carefully.
If your home has a screened pool enclosure, Dulando Screen & Awning offers the following advice:
Brace your screen enclosure – When bad weather takes down pool screen enclosures, inadequate bracing is often to blame. Pool enclosure hurricane braces reinforce the structural integrity of the pool enclosure. Verifying that your pool cage has hurricane braces before a storm arrives can minimize damage.
Check your enclosure’s hardware – Screws are small, but they can have a major effect when it comes to pool enclosure hurricane safety. Florida’s high humidity allows rust to flourish, and rusted fasteners leave a structure weak. Checking that your enclosure is built with corrosion-resistant fasteners is a simple way to ensure that it has the strength to survive nasty weather.
Preparing Your Yard to Prevent Storm Damage
Paying attention to the condition of your trees and trimming branches and/or removing dead or declining trees should be done before hurricane season, but there’s still time if you act now. As mentioned earlier, heavy branches hanging over your roof can snap off in a hurricane and crash through your roof, or crush the top of your vehicle. Ditto for an uprooted tree. Branches also can become projectiles and crash through windows – yours, or a neighbor’s!
An article in TC Palm warns about a particular risk of waiting until a hurricane watch or warning is issued before pruning. “Trash pickups will be suspended and your trimmings can become dangerous airborne projectiles propelled by the storm’s high winds.”
Other tips from TC Palm include:
- Call a professional – Trees trimmed by a professional arborist are far less likely to fall.
- Thinning a tree allows wind to blow through its canopy, offering less wind resistance in a storm. Prune young trees to create a single leader, which will grow into a strong trunk.
- Minimize damage to mature trees by removing weak branches and reducing limb lengths.
- Hatracked trees become sails. Removing a tree’s canopy encourages bushy growth, making a tree top-heavy and wind-resistant. Hatracking also is illegal.
- “Lifted” trees lead to broken branches. “Lifting” is a practice in which lower branches are removed for clearance underneath. It can cause branch breakage and makes trees top-heavy.
Short-term preparations involve moving patio furniture, grills and container plants indoors or to a sheltered area. TC Palm provides this important to-do list:
- Take in hanging pots and baskets. Secure or take in pots from shade houses.
- Secure young trees with additional stakes.
- Don’t remove fruit. If you put it in a trash pile and the pile isn’t picked up, the fruit may fly around in the wind.
- Tree-dwelling bromeliads, staghorn ferns and orchids can be secured with fishing line.
- Take in or tie up piles of yard or construction debris.
- Take in all garden furniture, grills, outdoor torches, string lights and other such items. (Do not sink furniture in the swimming pool.)
Being prepared for a hurricane can help you feel more confident, knowing you’ve taken every step to make your home safe and secure. If you need help getting ready, The Paint Manager has served Central Florida since 2000 with quality professional services that include roof repair, caulking, gutter cleaning and painting.
Visit our website to learn about the many other services we provide – including pressure washing, roof cleaning and stump removal. Become a member of The Paint Manager to receive a 15% year-‘round member’s discount. Contact us to learn more about our services and membership discount offer.