Plan & Prepare
Hurricane Preparedness: What to do BEFORE a Hurricane: Preparing Your Home
(Much of the information on this page is adapted from the FEMA document, "Against the Wind: Protecting Your Home from Hurricane Wind Damage." For more detailed information see the links at the bottom of this page).
After Hurricane Andrew caused large-scale destruction in Florida in 1992, a team of experts examined homes that failed and homes that survived.
They found four areas that should be checked for vulnerability to strong winds: The roof, windows, doors and garage doors.
You can take measures to strengthen these parts of your home.
REMEMBER: Before making changes, check with your local building or planning officials to find out whether permits are required!
The roof of your house is most vulnerable to damage from high winds. Proper roof construction is essential. A small investment made before a storm hits can save thousands in future damage.
The connection between the roof and walls must be strong enough to resist the "uplift" effect of strong winds. Roof trusses or rafters should be tied properly to exterior walls with metal hurricane connectors or straps.
Have a building professional use specially designed metal connectors to attach the roof to wall plates, which are already well connected to wall studs.
You may choose instead to use metal strapping or connectors to tie the roof truss to both the wall top plate and the wall studs. Special connectors also are available to attach a roof to a masonry wall.
Gable-end roofs are more susceptible to damage from high winds than hip or flat roofs.
Bracing for trusses and rafters can add protection to your home. In choosing the appropriate connectors for your walls, check with lumber-supply outlets, a building professional or local building and planning officials.
Installing storm shutters over all exposed windows and other glass surfaces is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your home. Cover all windows, French doors, sliding glass doors and skylights.
There are many types of manufactured storm shutters available. Before installing shutters, check with local building officials to find out whether or not a permit is required.
Plywood shutters that you make yourself, if installed properly, can offer a high level of protection from flying debris during a hurricane. Plywood shutters can be installed on all types of homes.
If you have double-entry doors, one is active and one is inactive. Check to see how the fixed half is secured top and bottom. The bolts or pins that secure most doors are not strong enough to withstand hurricane winds.
Check with your local building supplies retailer to find out what kind of bolt system will work for your door. Doors with windows will need additional protection from flying debris.
Double-wide (two-car) garage doors can pose a problem during hurricanes. Because they are so large, they wobble as high winds blow and can pull out of their tracks or collapse from wind pressure.
Certain parts of the country have building codes requiring garage doors that withstand high winds. Some garage doors can be strengthened with retrofit kits. Check with your local building supplies dealer.
Check into flood insurance. Many policies do not cover damage from flooding that often accompanies hurricanes.
Learn about the National Flood Insurance Program, here or at 1-800-720-1090.
Trim back dead or weak branches from trees.
Further Reading on Preparing Your Home:
Blueprint For Safety:
- Main page. Information on disaster-friendly building techniques to help families become better prepared for floods, hurricanes, wildfires and windstorms.
FLASH, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes:
National Flood Insurance Program:
Institute for Business and Home Safety:
U.S. Department of Agriculture:
American Red Cross: