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According to the National Weather Service (NWS), natural disasters cost the U.S. nearly $39 billion in total damages in 2012 and over $13 billion in 2013. That’s not even counting the heartbreaking number of injuries and fatalities.
It goes without saying that it is in everyone’s best interest to equip their homes against the elements and to prepare well in advance for natural disasters. This is why the U.S. government, through the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), actively works to help homeowners, businesses, and the general public build more disaster-resistant communities.
While FEMA’s primary job is to coordinate disaster response and assist in on-the-ground disaster recovery efforts, they also recommend strategies to mitigate property damage and loss of life in the event of a natural disaster, such as:
- Building partnerships and increasing involvement within communities
- Identifying hazards and vulnerabilities
- Identifying and prioritizing risk reduction actions:
- Building all infrastructure to code
- Reinforcing existing infrastructure
FEMA puts a lot of emphasis on the role of the community in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, and rightly so. But individual property owners also have a role to play, and what better place to start than your own home?
The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) strongly recommends the use of ring-shank nails in roof repairs and installations. Tests conducted at the IBHS Research Center showed that ring-shank nails perform better than conventional smooth-shank nails in terms of withdrawal capacity. This allows them to stay in place even when the roof cover is blown off, reducing the risk of water intrusion during inclement weather.
Studies conducted at Clemson University and Florida International University also showed that ring-shank nails more than doubled the uplift capacity of roofs when used on sheathing attachments in high-wind areas.
Other IBHS recommendations for re-roofs include sealing roof decks with self-adhering modified bituminous membrane to curb water damage, securing roofs to the top floor with straps and anchors, bracing gable ends, and securing soffits to their supporting material.
Windows and Doors
Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows and glass doors in the event of a hurricane, although the International Code Council (ICC) also suggests installing plywood panels as a low-cost alternative. Double-entry front doors and garage doors also need to be braced.
If the biggest risk in your area is wildfire, however, egress is your priority. National PSA campaign website Ready.gov advises using window security bars with fire safety opening features.
Attics are often overlooked in disaster preparation, but both attic ventilation and attic insulation matter when equipping your home against disasters. Roof vents and soffits need to be secured well to prevent water damage and ceiling collapse. Insulation, on the other hand, is especially vital in areas prone to snowstorms because it prevents ice dam formation.
Again, if the biggest hazard in your area is wildfire, your priorities change a bit. You’ll want to make sure flying embers stay out of your attic by covering vents with 1/8” metal mesh screens.
Disaster-proofing your home and household doesn’t stop at strengthening your roof, windows, doors, and attic. The best tool for disaster preparedness is, after all, information. Know which hazards are the biggest in your area by checking reference websites like the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (http://www.flash.org/) and IBHS (https://www.disastersafety.org/).
Austin Jones is a Marketing coach and works at Roof Roof based in South Carolina. With his expertise in roofing industry, he has worked with clients in many different places in the United States as well in Southeastern since 1995. His team of experts helps meet all the client’s pressures and multiple demands. As part of the company we help the homeowners as we are fueled by our desire to partake in our knowledge through our personal blog site.