As we’ve seen in recent years, major meteorological events, such as tropical storms and hurricanes, can reach many areas throughout the United States, from Florida to New York and all along the Gulf Coast. In some cases, such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the damage can even reach land-locked states, such as Pennsylvania.
This is why it’s so important to learn how to prepare your house for a tropical storm or hurricane. Getting your home ready for the high winds and torrential rain that accompany these storms should begin months before the start of hurricane season on June 1. Even though many homeowners don’t think about the potential disaster that a major storm can cause, it’s imperative that residents take a look at the storm history in their area and make appropriate home improvements to prevent future damage.
While many newer homes in Florida and surrounding states are built with features that are more able to withstand hurricane forces, older homes or those in areas that aren’t usually hit by tropical storms are often lacking in hurricane preparedness. This was painfully obvious in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and New York, flattening homes and businesses in its path. Many of the towns in Sandy’s path simply didn’t know how to prepare for a tropical storm.
Although a mega-storm like Sandy can test the ability of even the most flood and waterproof properties, these storms are rare. Most homes that are hit by tropical storms and hurricanes need to be able to withstand less catastrophic weather. However, state regulations usually require new construction buildings to weather the worst that Mother Nature can deliver.
Tropical Storms and Hurricanes
If you’re in the path of a major storm, it might make little difference whether it’s a named major hurricane or a smaller tropical storm – the impact and aftermath can be the same. For this reason, it’s important that you learn how to prepare for a hurricane in your home or for any other major storm possibility. What exactly is the difference between these storm systems?
The main difference is the wind speed, but don’t be fooled – a slow-moving storm with a weak wind speed can cause as much damage as a fast-moving storm with heavy winds. Think about a slow-moving storm that sits over a city for several hours or even as long as day. It can easily cause as much – if not more – damage than a high-velocity storm system that moves across a region in three hours, especially if it’s accompanied by heavy rain that floods out the area.
The following is list of storm designations used by most American-based meteorologists:
These storms can be the beginning stages of a major storm that will develop later, but initially they might be little more than a large storm. Winds remain below 39 mph and are accompanied by thunder and lightning storms, but even at this speed, damage can happen to buildings. Tropical depressions can be accompanied by hail, which produces localized damage to homes and vehicles.
If a depression increases in speed, it’s classified as a tropical storm. These weather events have winds between 39-73 mph. Although a localized storm might have winds in this range, it’s only considered to be a tropical storm if it has cyclical formation and, in some cases, the beginning formation of a storm eye. This is also the stage when a storm is named by the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The weakest hurricane has winds of 74 mph, known as a category 1. Wind speed is recorded throughout the duration of the hurricane, which can change categories during its active time. The worst, and most damaging hurricane, has winds more than 156 mph and is considered catastrophic by the NHC. These storms are carefully tracked by meteorologists and can change designations several times throughout their life, going from a tropical storm to a hurricane and back to a tropical storm, especially as it travels across the Atlantic and picks up warmer weather.
How to Hurricane-Proof Your Garage Doors
When it comes to hurricane-proofing your home, the garage door is one of the most important aspects. When a garage door fails during a major storm, the items inside can be damaged or destroyed by the winds and rain. It also provides a breach in the home and can begin a domino effect of other structural failings, including broken windows and roof damage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has named garage door loss as one of the biggest contributors to serious home damage during storms.
As little as an inch of water in a garage can cause more than $7,000 worth of damage. This doesn’t even take into consideration the emotional loss of keepsake items and damage to vehicles that might flood as the water rises in the garage.
Fortunately, finding a hurricane-proof garage door is easy, especially if you are in West Central Florida. Banko Overhead Doors offer a wide selection of hurricane rated doors in our service area, including Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Manatee, Sarasota and Polk counties. Banko Overhead Doors offers expert installation of Hurricane Rated garage doors, which meet Florida WindCode regulations while complementing the exterior of your home.
Although replacing your standard garage door with a hurricane-proof door is often overlooked when prepping for storm season, some experts estimate that as much as 80 percent of the damage to Florida homes in recent hurricanes were due to garage door failures. If a garage door is breached by a storm, it can result in a pressure change that can potentially blow the roof off the entire home. In other situations, it can cause a breakdown in the home’s foundation that will allow water to seep in, causing drywall and flooring damage. In some cases, this damage might not be seen for several months after the flooding occurs.
Based on government recommendations, hurricane-proof garage doors should be able to withstand a certain amount of wind and force, known as the WindCode. This code is determined by the greatest wind amounts that are typically experienced during a hurricane or tropical storm. In most areas served by Banko Overhead Doors, the WindCode is 140-150. Clopay® garage doors have their own rating system based on the WindCode and other factors, such as the structure of your home, what your neighborhood’s environment is and how close you are to a major body of water.
The hurricane-proof garage doors that Banko installs meet the highest standards of quality and durability. The doors are tested for strength against both wind and air-born debris. They also come with warranties and are as simple to use as a regular garage door, while also being quieter and more energy-efficient than standard doors.
When you get a new garage door installed, make sure that the company also upgrades the surrounding mounting area and track. No matter how strong a door is, it’s only as good as the support areas that hold it in place. You’ll want your door to be secured and well-fitted.
While adding a hurricane or tropical stormproof garage door to your home might seem like an unneeded expense, keep in mind that this upgrade will make your house more attractive when you put it on the market. Some insurance companies will also give discounts on your homeowners insurance when you add a reinforced garage door. In some parts of Florida, a homeowner who installs a certified hurricane-proof garage door can save up to 30 percent on their insurance. Make sure you check with your insurance company when you make any weather-related upgrades.
During a Storm
When a tropical storm or hurricane is imminent, you should already have a fully stocked emergency supply. This kit should include three days’ worth of water, three days’ worth of food supplies – items like granola bars, nuts, fresh fruit and hearty soup with bread – extra clothes and shoes for each person, a first-aid kit, a battery-powered radio, emergency tools like hammers, scissors and flashlights and any medicine that your family members will need. When a storm is imminent, pack medication in a sealable bag ahead of time so they can be easily grabbed in an evacuation or if you need to move to higher ground within the house.
In cases where a major storm – like Hurricane Sandy or 2005’s Hurricane Katrina – is bearing down on your region, your best bet to stay safe is to move north or inland, and always following the recommendations of emergency authorities and government issued protocols. Even if you’ve hurricane-proofed your home and you have confidence in its ability to withstand the strongest storms, it’s sometimes best to seek shelter at a friend or family’s home, or even a hotel, 30 miles or more away. During a major storm, there’s a high likelihood of getting hit by debris, both inside and outside of your home, so if you have time to evacuate before it hits, this is usually your best option. The use of hurricane shutters and a hurricane-proof garage door, can make a significant difference in lessening the amount of damage upon your return.
As far as protecting your home, there are several things you can do to make it more secure during a hurricane. According to FEMA, the recommended protocol to prepare your home prior to a storm includes:
- Use plywood to cover large openings, like skylights or windows, or put on hurricane shutters if you have them. If you don’t, consider ordering them before the next major storm.
- Clear out any debris from your rain gutters and downspouts and make sure they are securely fastened to the house.
- Remove loose tree limbs and clear away shrubbery.
- Bring any outside items that can blow away inside. This includes patio furniture, trash cans and toys.
- Also, bring in your trash cans and recycle containers, which will likely dump and blow away during a high-wind storm.
Although many people use large strips of heavy tape for hurricane window protection, this isn’t a recommended strategy. Although it’s true that the tape might hold some of the glass together if the window shatters, in many cases, it just makes a bigger mess. You’ll be better served by covering the window with plywood, or you can hang heavy sheets inside the windows and place old towels on the floor below. The sheets provide a barrier to prevent the broken glass from flying into other areas.
For more information about how to prepare for a hurricane at home or any other storm-related damage, visit FloridaDisaster.org. The site includes more information about how to secure your home and how to prepare an appropriate disaster supply kit.
About Banko Overhead Doors
Providing Florida’s Gulf Coast with garage doors needs since 1984, Banko is a trusted member of the local community. Our staff is professional, knowledgeable and efficient, which means your new garage door can be installed quickly and economically. Banko stands behind our products and we offer service plans and warranties to protect your investment in a hurricane-proof garage door. We also take the hassle out of getting permits and negotiating tax implications, so the homeowner only needs to pick out their favorite door and let the Banko staff do the rest.
Contact Banko Overhead Doors to get a free estimate or consultation on hurricane and WindCode rated garage doors in Florida today.
Additional Resources on Garage Door Insulation and Strength:
- Garage Door R-Value
- Why You Should Have an Insulated Garage
- How to Know if Your Garage Door is Hurricane-Proof